Dr. Maaret Jokela-Pansini


Sozial- und Kulturgeographie

+41 31 631 80 14
Universität Bern
Geographisches Institut
Sozial- und Kulturgeographie
Hallerstrasse 12
CH-3012 Bern
Nach Vereinbarung

I’m a social and cultural geographer studying individuals’ embodied experiences and practices related to socio-political and environmental phenomena such as environmental pollution, discrimination and violence. I draw on qualitative methods and also interested in the ways that knowledge is produced in research settings. My research focuses on people and places that are often overlooked in academic research and/or stigmatised in public discourse. I seek to understand the diverse experiences and responses of people living in such environments. My research combines environmental justice scholarship, political ecologies, feminist theories and health geographies. I have conducted fieldwork in Honduras, South Africa and Italy.

My current research project explores how individuals experience and respond to environmental pollution in Taranto, a city located by one of the largest steel plants in Europe.

I graduated from Humboldt University Berlin and University of Potsdam in political sciences and Scandinavian studies in 2008. After working at non-governmental women’s organisations in Honduras and Switzerland for three years I started my doctoral studies at the Institute of Geography in Bern. I worked as an assistant in the Cultural Geography unit in 2014-2018 and was also co-coordinator and research fellow in the Swiss-South African research project Safeguarding democracy: Contests of values and interests funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. I was visiting fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in April-May 2015. In May 2018 I finished my thesis titled Imagining, negotiating and transforming space: women human rights defenders in Honduras in a global context. Since August 2018, I’m a postdoctoral researcher in the Social and Cultural Geography unit.


  • Umweltgerechtigkeit
  • Gender and Diversity
  • Geographien der Gesundheit
  • Umweltverschmutzung
  • Gewalt/embodied violence
  • Feministische Ökologie
  • Transnationaler Aktivismus
  • Menschenrechte
  • Regionale Schwerpunkte: Honduras, Südafrika, Italien


Seit 2018 Postdoc in der Sozial- und Kulturgeographie, Universität Bern
2011-2018 Doktorat in Geographie, Universität Bern
Titel der Dissertation: Imagining, negotiating and transforming space. Women’s human rights struggles in Honduras in a global context
2011-2018 Teilnehmerin der Gender Studies Graduate School am Interdisziplinären Zentrum für Geschlechterforschung, Universität Bern
2014-2016 CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) Grundlagen der Hochschullehre, Zentrum für universitäre Weiterbildung, Universität Bern
2015 & 2016 Feldforschung in Südafrika
2015 University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Forschungsaufenthalt als Doktorandin
2013 Feldforschung in Honduras
2010 6th Annual International Leadership Training Programme on Human Rights, UNESCO Chair & Institute of Human Rights, University of Connecticut
2001-2007 M.A. in Politikwissenschaften, Universität Potsdam und Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
2004-2005 Studium in Politikwissenschaften und Italienische Sprache, Università degli Studi di Bari, Italien (Erasmus Programm)
2003-2005 Studien in Politikwissenschaften und Skandinavistik, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität in Greifswald
2001 Abitur, Deutsche Schule Helsinki

Beruflicher Werdegang

Seit 2018 Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin in der Sozial- und Kulturgeographie, Universität Bern
2014-2018 Assistentin in der Kulturgeographie, Universität Bern
2014-2018 Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin und Koordinatorin der Gender-Forschungsgruppe des Swiss South African Joint Research Programme (SSAJRP) des SNF-Projekts "Safeguarding Democracy. Contests of Values and Interests"
2011-2013 Projektassistentin und Kommunikationsverantwortliche, PeaceWomen Across the Globe, Bern
2008-2009 Projektmitarbeiterin, Centro de Estudios de la Mujer, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
2008 Praktikum, Abteilung für internationale Beziehungen, Bildungsministerium, Helsinki, Finnland
2005-2010 Weitere Berufserfahrung in Tourismus und Finanzadministration

Angliederungen und Mitgliedschaften

  • AK Geographie und Geschlecht
  • Institut für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung e.V.
  • Mittelbauvereinigung der Universität Bern (MVUB)

Jokela-Pansini, M. (forthcoming) Body mapping: Exploring the field through the body. In: Raphaela Kogler and Jeannine Wintzer (Eds.) Raum und Bild. Strategien visueller raumbezogener Forschung. Heidelberg: Springer.

Jump to: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016


Jokela-Pansini, Maaret (2020). Complicating notions of violence: An embodied view on violence against women in Honduras. Environment and Planning. C, Politics and space, 38(5), pp. 848-865. Sage 10.1177/2399654420906833


Jokela-Pansini, Maaret (2019). Imaginarios Espaciales e Identidad Colectiva en las Luchas por los Derechos Humanos de las Mujeres en Honduras. Revista Latino-Americana de Geografia e Gênero, 10(2), pp. 98-124. Universidade Estadual de Ponta Grossa 10.5212/Rlagg.v.10.i2.0006


Jokela-Pansini, Maaret (2018). Multi-sited research methodology: improving understanding of transnational concepts. Area, 51(3), pp. 516-523. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/area.12494


Siegl, Veronika; Jokela-Pansini, Maaret (2017). On Love and Courage. Interview with feminist scholar and activist Margo Okazawa-Rey. Genderstudies(30), pp. 4-7. Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Geschlechterforschung, Universität Bern


Jokela-Pansini, Maaret (July 2016). Maaret Jokela-Pansini, Bern. Regard croisé in feminist methodology. Reflections from two research projects in Honduras and South Africa. Feministisches Geo-RundMail(68), pp. 15-16.

Jokela-Pansini, Maaret (2016). Spatial imaginaries and collective identity in women’s human rights struggles in Honduras. Gender, Place and Culture, 23(10), pp. 1-15. Routledge 10.1080/0966369X.2016.1204998

Environmental inequalities in polluted environments

Laufzeit 2019-2020
Beschreibung In times of global environmental crisis, there is an urgent need to study the ways that pollution affects people and their everyday lives. This is particularly important in remote areas like Taranto, in the periphery of Europe, where environmental controls are absent and economic interests and jobs are prioritised over health. Taranto, known as territorio malato (sick environment) is a high-risk environmental area and hosts Europe’s largest and most polluting steel plant. The city contributes to 80% of Italy’s and almost 10% of Europe’s dioxin emissions (European Commission, 2016). Due to the high dioxin levels, Taranto’s residents have higher risk of early death, respiratory diseases, reproductive problems and cancer (Mangia et al., 2013). Despite strong scientific evidence on residents’ health problems related to industrial pollution, politicians and the media often blame residents’ health problems on their ‘unhealthy lifestyles’ such as smoking and bad eating habits (Greco, 2016). As environmental scholars globally have argued, such stigmatisation is based on old stereotypes and historical representations of ‘the South’ as ‘backward’ and ‘inferior’ to the North. The project is situated within health geographies, which explore how the interactions of humans, materials and the environment shape and constrain health, wellbeing and survival (Brown et al., 2018). I combine health geographies with environmental justice scholarship, which argues that pollution affects specific people in specific places and enforces environmental inequalities regarding race, gender, class and other social categories (Pulido, 2017a). This project shows the unequal burdens and benefits of industrial production sites in Europe that still are largely ignored in public discourse and academic scholarship – despite increasing awareness on and protests against global environmental problems. The study therefore asks, whose health matters? How do residents in Taranto experience living in a polluted environment and how does it affect their everyday lives? It responds to the urgent call for identifying what environmental inequality actually means and therefore, complements epidemiological studies on polluted environments.

Imagining, negotiating and transforming space: women human rights defenders in Honduras in a global context

Laufzeit 2012-2018
Beschreibung My PhD project analysed how women human rights defenders in Honduras, including feminist and environmental activists, collectively organised for human rights after the coup d’état in 2009. I studied women’s everyday embodied experiences with violence and viewed how violence is entangled with global processes – rather than merely based in one place. My research revealed that collective self-care practices were central for women activists to bear and transform their experiences of injustice.

Jokela-Pansini, M. (2020) ‘Complicating notions of violence: An embodied view of violence against women in Honduras’. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. Published online 16 February 2020. doi/10.1177/2399654420906833

Jokela-Pansini, M. (2019) ‘Imaginarios espaciales e identidad colectiva en las luchas por los derechos humanos de las mujeres en Honduras’. Revista Latino-americana de Geografia e Gênero, 10(2), 92-124 (translation). doi.org/10.5212/Rlagg.v.10.i2.0006

Jokela-Pansini, M. (2016) ‘Spatial imaginaries and collective identity in women’s human rights struggles in Honduras.’ Gender, Place & Culture, 23(10), 1465-1479. doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2016.1204998

Safeguarding Democracy: Contests of Values and Interests

Laufzeit 2014-2018
Finanzierung Swiss South African Joint Research Programme des SNF
Beschreibung This project explored how values are negotiated in different social and political contexts and what significance these have for knowledge production, for policy development and above all for safeguarding democracy in South Africa and Switzerland. It is not only important to understand the values that underpin our democracies but also to engage with the threats that emerge from conflicts in everyday life. The sub-questions focus on the changes in the meaning of values that have taken place historically in each society. Are there non-negotiable values that are key elements of democracy? In what ways do Swiss and South African democracies live up to the democratic values they promote?

The research focused on the dynamics between the state and different groups in society in the negotiation and interpretation of values. Two major fields were the focus of the empirical research undertaken to answer these research questions: social movements, migration and the media and women’s human rights and gender-based violence.

The project applied a postcolonial methodological concept on North-South collaboration called ‘crossed gazes’, which aimed to move away from Eurocentric ontologies and research practices. I applied this methodology in my PhD research and combined it with feminist activist scholarship (e.g. Okazawa-Rey 2016) in which I frequently crossed spaces as an academic and activist. For example, during my fieldwork in Honduras, I volunteered in a feminist electoral observation group, participated in trainings for women human rights defenders and accompanied activists at international meetings. Reflecting on my positionality in these various spaces was an important part of my research: I developed a framework for multi-sited methodologies through fieldwork in South Africa and Honduras and analysed how engaging scholars and activists in different places in our research improves our understanding of transnational concepts, such as women human rights defenders (Jokela-Pansini, 2018).

Kooperationspartner*innen Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Gender Studies (IZFG), Universität Bern
History Workshop and National Research Foundation Chair in Local Histories and Present Realities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg
Centre for African Studies, Universität Basel
Output Jokela-Pansini, M. (2018) Multi‐sited research methodology: Improving understanding of transnational concepts. Area, published online 28 September 2018. https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12494

Auswahl seit 2016

April More than health: Reviewing environmental inequalities through care activities in polluted environments (Taranto, Italy)’. Oral presentation at the Annual Conference of the Association of American Geographers (AAG), Denver.
November ‘Uneven geographies of toxicity and everyday practices of care in in territorio malato, Taranto (Italy)’. Oral presentation at the Feminist political ecology workshop with Prof. Sharlene Mollett, University of Bern.
Oktober "Governing space - governing security? Feminist organizations' approaches on genderbased violence in two cities in Honduras." Präsentation an der IGU Annual Conference "Local Governance in the New Urban Agenda", Università di Salento, Lecce.

"Multi-sited research methodology: Improving understanding of transnational concepts."
Präsentation an der final conference des SSAJRP/SNF Projekts "Safeguarding Democracy. Contests of Value and Interests" in Bern.

Dezember "Studying women's human rights activism 'across worlds'". Presentation at the Swiss Researching Africa Days, Bern.
September "Intercultural, feminist research. Reflections from two research projects on women's human rights activism in Honduras and South Africa". Presentation at the PhD workshop organised by the SSAJRP project 'Safeguarding Democracy: contests of values and interests', Cape Town.
Juli "Applying intercultural methods in feminist research". ISA Forum of Sociology, Vienna.
März Perceptions of women human rights defenders on violence against women in Honduras. Presentation at the AAG Annual Meeting, San Francisco.

Auswahl seit 2017

September Workshop zu partizipativen Forschungsmethoden an der feministischen Sommerschule 'Gender & Place' des Arbeitskreises feministische Geographie in Herzberg, Schweiz (zusammen mit Tina Büchler und Margo Okazawa-Rey)
Mai Workshop 'Mentoring für Doktorandinnen des Geographischen Instituts der Universität Bern' (Koordination)

Aktuelle Lehrveranstaltungen

FS 2020 Challenges in Geography II (co-teaching)
FS 2020 Forschungswerkstatt Digitale Geographien

Vergangene Lehrveranstaltungen

HS 2019 Übung "Humangeographie I"
HS 2018 Übung "Humangeographie I"
HS 2018 Übung "Orte der Globalisierung"

HS 2017

Übung "Humangeographie I"
HS 2017 Vorlesung "Humangeographie I"
Vorlesungseinheiten zu 'Perspektiven von Globalisierung'
HS 2016 Übung "Humangeographie I"
HS 2016 Vorlesung "Humangeographie I"
Vorlesungseinheiten zu 'Humangeographische Raumkonzepte', 'Soziale Ungleichheiten in der Stadt I' und 'Soziale Ungleichheiten in der Stadt II'
HS 2016 Vorlesung "Politische Geographie"
Vorlesungseinheit 'Soziale Bewegungen II: Feministische Ansätze in der Geographie'
HS 2015 Übung "Humangeographie I"
HS 2014 Übung "Humangeographie I"
HS 2014 Vorlesung "Humangeographie I"
Vorlesungseinheit 'Städte und Gentrifizierung'
HS 2014 Vorlesung "Politische Geographie"
Vorlesungseinheit 'Soziale Bewegungen'
HS 2014 Übung "Globalisierung der Kulturen"
HS 2014 Vorlesung "Globalisierung der Kulturen"
Vorlesungseinheit 'Soziale Bewegungen' und Kurskoordination
FS 2014 Kolloquium "Inter-und transdisziplinäres Kolloquium in Gender Studies am IZFG"
Kolloquiumseinheit zur transdisziplinären Forschung und sozialen Bewegungen