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Alison L Bain

Alison L Bain



PhD Geography, University of Cambridge
MA Geography, University of Toronto
BA (Honours) Geography, Queen's University

Research Keywords

Urban social geography; Arts-led urban development; Geographies of artistic labour & creative practice; Geographies of sexuality; Queer geographies; Feminist pedagogies.

Alison Bain

Contact Information

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3

416 736 2100 

Research Interests

I am a feminist urban social geographer who studies contemporary urban and suburban culture. My research examines the complex relationships of cultural workers and LGBTQ2S populations to cities and suburbs in Canada and Germany with particular attention to questions of identity formation, place-making, spatial politics, and neighbourhood change. My writing focuses on the (sub)urban geographies of artistic labour and precarity, creative practice, and cultural production within differently sized cities and across city-regions. I am especially interested in the contested governance dynamics of (in)formal arts district and cultural quarter formation as well as municipal social inclusion practices within neighbourhoods and policy frameworks as triggered by both bottom-up and top-down arts-led urban redevelopment initiatives and queer place-making practices. I teach urban geography at the undergraduate and graduate level, and have developed courses on public space contestations, the cultures of cities, the spatial politics of urban place-making, and geographies of genders and sexualities.

Research Projects

Role: Principal Investigator

Collaborators: Dr. Julie Podmore, Dr. Brian Ray

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Insight Grant

Duration: April 2016-April 2021

Summary: This research addresses key knowledge gaps regarding the lives, service needs, and place-making practices of suburban Canadian LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Two-Spirit) populations. The dearth of attention to sexuality among suburban scholars and the limited investigation of the suburbs by geographers of sexualities means that little is known about the LGBTQ2S populations living there, or how to situate them within changing suburban landscapes. In Canada, this inattention has significant implications: a limited understanding of the spatial, embodied and discursive dimensions of everyday queer lives in suburbia; an inadequate grasp of the support services and the socially inclusive policymaking needed at the municipal and metropolitan scales; and an inability to imagine suburbia as a queer location. This research uses queer and intersectionality theories to document the geographies of queer suburban lives as they intersect with other minority identity markers (e.g., ethnicity, racialization, class, gender, and age) in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Role: Co-organizer with Dr. Nicole Laliberté in collaboration with workshop participants

Funding: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Connections Grant

Duration: April 2017-April 2019

Summary: This workshop was held May 16-18, 2018, bringing together feminist geography scholars from across Canada and the United States with the overarching goal of fostering a North American scholarly exchange about the role of controversy in animating feminist geography classrooms. Controversy in the classroom can be produced both by the topic- or issue-based content of courses as well as embodied positionalities, leading to different teaching experiences and possibilities for social change based on social identities. Critical feminist geographic scholarship shows that classrooms can be uncomfortable, personal, and diverse sites of praxis, yet what remains under-represented and the priority of this workshop and ensuing publication in a forthcoming special issue of ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies are the perspectives, experiences, and strategies of Indigenous, racialized, and queer feminist geography instructors.

Role: Principal Investigator

Collaborators: Dr. Friederike Landau

Funding: International Collaboration Grant and Minor Research Grant, York University

Duration: April 2015-April 2017

Summary: This research investigates the socio-spatial effects of formal and informal arts district/cultural quarter formation on processes of relationship- and capacity-building between artists and non-artist residents in the post-Socialist German cities of Berlin and Leipzig. Too often the concentration of artistic labour in arts districts is co-opted and instrumentalized by city administrators in property-led, amenity-centred place-branding campaigns to promote profit-driven urban development. In German cities, like Berlin and Leipzig, cultural producers are mobilizing in response to local growth-oriented entrepreneurial policy agendas and challenging the appropriation of culture and creativity that such agendas entail.   

Research Output

Bain, A.L. and Peake, L. (eds) (2017) Urbanization in a Global Context. Toronto: Oxford University Press, pp. 435 (a 2nd edition has been commissioned for 2022 publication).

Bain, A.L. (2013) Creative Margins: Cultural Production in Canadian Suburbs. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 294.


Podmore, J.A. and Bain, A.L. (2020) ‘No queers out there?’: Metronormativity and the queer suburban. Geography Compass. DOI: 10.1111/gec3.12505

Bain, A.L. and Podmore, J.A. (2020) More-than-safety: co-creating resourcefulness and conviviality in out-of-school spaces for suburban LGBTQ2S youth. Children’s Geographies. DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2020.1745755

Bain, A.L. and Podmore, J.A. (2020) Scavenging for LGBTQ2S public library visibility on Vancouver’s periphery. Tidjschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie. DOI: 10.1111/tesg.12396

Bain, A.L. and Podmore, J.A. (2019) Challenging heteronormativity in suburban high schools through “surplus visibility”: Gay-Straight Alliances in the Vancouver city-region. Gender, Place, and Culture. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2019.1618798.

Podmore, J.A. and Bain, A.L. (2019) On the edge of urban ‘equalities’: framing millennial suburban LGBTQ+ activisms in Canada. Geographic Research Forum 39(1): 43-66.

Bain, A.L. and Landau, F. (2019) Assessing the embeddedness dynamics of the Baumwollspinnerei cultural quarter in Leipzig: introducing the POSES Star Framework. European Planning Studies 27(8): 1564-1586. DOI: 10.1080/0965413.2019.1592120

Bain, A.L. and March, L. (2019) Urban redevelopment, cultural philanthropy, and the commodification of artistic authenticity in Toronto. City & Community 18(1): 173-194. DOI: 10.1111/cico.12359

Bain, A.L. and Landau, F. (2019) Artists, temporality, and the governance of collaborative place-making. Urban Affairs Review. 55(2): 405-427. DOI: 10.1177/1078087417711044.

Laliberté, N. and Bain, A.L. (2018) The cultural politics of a sense of failure in feminist anti-racist mentoring. Gender, Place, and Culture 25(8): 1093-1114.

Bain, A.L., Podmore, J.A., and Rosenberg, R.D. (2018) ‘Straightening’ space and time? Peripheral moral panics in print media representations of Canadian LGBTQ2S suburbanites, 1985-2005. Social and Cultural Geography. DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2018.1528629.

Bain, A.L. (2018) Artists as property owners and small-scale developers. Urban Geography 39(6): 844-867. DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2017.1405687.

Bain, A.L. and Landau, F. (2017) Artist intermediaries in Berlin:  cultural intermediation as an interscalar strategy of self-organizational survival. Urban Research and Practice 11(3): 247-262. DOI: 10.1080/17535069.2017.1334810.

Fem-Mentee Collective (2017) (alphabetically: Bain, A.L., Baker, R., Laliberté, N., Milan, A., Payne, W., Ravensbergen-Hodgins, L., and Saad, D.) Emotional masking and spill-overs in the neoliberal university: a feminist geographic perspective on mentorship. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. 41(4): 590-607.

Bain, A.L. (2017) Neighbourhood artistic disaffiliation in Hamilton, Ontario. Urban Studies 54(13):  2935-2954. DOI: 10.1177/0042098016658390.

Laliberté, N., Bain, A.L., Lankenau, G., Sziarto, K., Bolduc, M.F., and McGinty, A.M. (2017) The controversy capital of stealth feminism in higher education. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 16(1): 34-58.

Bain, A.L. and Payne, W. (2016) Queer de-participation in the co-production of scholarly knowledge. Qualitative Research 16(3): 330-340.

Bain, A.L., Payne, W., and Isen, J. (2015) Rendering a neighbourhood queer. Social and Cultural Geography 16(4):  424-443.

Bain, A.L. and Verjee, Z. (2014) Planning a suburban public artscape:  the case of Mississauga, Canada. Journal of Art and the Public Sphere 2(1-3): 87-101.

Book Chapters

Bain, A.L. and Arun-Pina, C. (2020) Masculinism. In A. Kobayashi (ed) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Volume 2. Oxford: Elsevier.

Bain, A.L. and Mark, B. (2020) Re-imaging, re-elevating, re-placing the urban. In M. Moos, R. Walker, and T. Vinodrai (eds) Canadian Cities in Transition: Understanding Contemporary Urbanism. Sixth Edition. Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 277-291.

Bain, A.L. (2018) Suburban cultural production. In B. Hanlon and T. J. Vicino (eds) The Routledge Companion to the Suburbs. New York: Routledge, 323-331.

Peake, L. and Bain, A.L. (2017) Introduction: urbanization and urban geographies. In A.L. Bain and L. Peake (eds) Urbanization in a Global Context. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1-16.

Bain, A.L. and Peake, L. (2017) Conclusion: envisioning global urban futures. In A.L. Bain and L. Peake (eds) Urbanization in a Global Context. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 426-435.

Bain, A.L. and Baker, R. (2017) Land use and creativity in post-industrial cities. In A.L. Bain and L. Peake (eds) Urbanization in a Global Context. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 103-119.

Bain, A.L. and Rallis, N (2017) Crawling with art:  public art installations on James Street North in Hamilton, Ontario. In M. Radice and A. Boudreault-Fournier (eds) Urban Encounters:  Art and the Public. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 119-147.

Bain, A.L. (2016) Suburban creativity and innovation. In R. Shearmur, C. Carrincazeaux, and D. Doloreaux (eds) Handbook on the Geography of Innovation.  Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 266-276.

Bain, A.L. and Burnett, R. (2016) Urban regeneration in a mid-sized city: a new vision for downtown Sudbury. In R. Thomas (ed) Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 328-338.

Bain, A.L. and Arik, H. (2016) Patriarchy. The Wiley-AAG International Encyclopedia of Geography: People, the Earth, Environment, and Technology. New York: Wiley Press.  

Bain, A.L. (2015) Re-imaging, re-elevating, re-placing the urban. In P. Filion, M. Moos, R. Walker, and T. Vinodrai (eds) Canadian Cities in Transition: New Directions in the 21st Century. Fifth Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 244-257.

Recognition & Awards

  • Joint sabbatical leave fellowship, YUFA, York University
  • International travel conference fund award, Faculty of LA&PS, York University
  • International travel conference fund award, Faculty of LA&PS, York University


Course CodeTitle
GEOG 5314 3.0Cultures of cities: planning, policy, and practice
GEOG 2220 6.0Urban geography
GEOG 4900 3.0Public space
GEOG 3400 3.0Geographies of genders and sexualities