5: Negotiating Landscapes of (Un)safety: Atmospheres and Ambivalence in Female Students’ Everyday Geographies

This chapter reports on the findings from an online survey of female students administered at a university in the north of England exploring perceptions of safety and experiences of interpersonal violence, predominantly in public spaces. The chapter considers how landscapes of (un)safety feature in female students’ experiences of, and strategies to avoid, predominantly sexual harassment, abuse and violence. While certain places and spaces within the urban landscape are regarded as ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’, their status as such is contingent. Material characteristics of urban landscapes are brought together with social, emotional and affective aspects, to form ‘atmospheres’. The chapter explores how female students recognize, experience and negotiate these hostile yet ‘ambivalent’ and potentially shifting emotional and material environments and atmospheres of university life. The chapter further argues that these atmospheres are shaped by broader processes of neoliberal urbanism.

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