David Plummer
Stephen Geofroy
Alonso Alvarez


Space is gendered. Private domestic space is classically considered to be a woman’s domain while public space is masculine. Of course, men are found in private spaces and women in public, but ownership is a reference to those who typically exercise day-to-day control of that space. It should be remembered, however, that women frequently act as proxies for men in private spaces too; in much of the world, domestic space is inherited by men who are traditionally considered heads-of-the-household. To complicate matters, masculinity comes in many forms and to reconcile these wide variations with narrow, widely-held stereotypes, Connell introduced the term hegemonic masculinity. We take this term as referring to idealised cultural stereotypes related to orthodox masculinity, which provide virtual benchmarks for manhood but which exist nowhere in their absolute form. Nevertheless, these stereotypes serve to map out male domains and they can hence also serve to exclude women, thus making space gendered. We further argue that a potent means of mapping gender domains is through taboos: these taboos designate physical places and cultural spaces that men should not be associated with and doing so can pose grave risks to a reputation and sometimes result in violent retribution. We explore how masculine obligations and taboos construct boundaries between both male and female domains (intergender divides) and create distance between the domains of ‘real’ men and males who fail to measure up (intragender divides). In particular, we will focus on how the passage to manhood is both deeply affected by, and translates into the everyday character, praxis and ownership of public space with particular reference to manhood in the Caribbean.


How to Cite
Plummer, D., Geofroy, S. and Alvarez, A. (2017) “Navigating the liminal space between childhood and manhood in the Caribbean. How are cultural spaces and physical places divided between the sexes?”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(1), pp. 5–14. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i1.46.
Author Biographies

David Plummer, James Cook University

David Plummer is an international development specialist and Adjunct Professor in Public Health at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. David holds a PhD in health sociology from the Australian National University. He has expertise in public health and health sociology. David has worked in the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Africa. Previously he was Senior Advisor at the Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, where he specialised in health and international development; he held a joint Commonwealth/UNESCO Chair at the University of the West Indies, where he worked in Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries; he was an Adjunct Professor in Public Health at the University of Texas, Houston. Most recently he was Professor and Head of Population Health at Griffith University. In 2003, David was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to public and community health.

Stephen Geofroy, University of the West Indies

Stephen Geofroy teaches both undergraduate and post-graduate levels in the School of Education, The University of West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. He lectures in Education Foundations and Teacher Education with focus on the Philosophy of Education and the Teaching of Social Sciences. Previous he lectured undergraduates in philosophy in the Department of History and Philosophy at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of West Indies, Barbados.  His PhD research is titled “From whom do they take their lead? A study of masculine identity construction by male youth in contemporary Trinidad and implications for schooling”.  His research interests are in Teacher Education, the Teaching of Social & Cultural Studies, Masculinities & Education, Gender & Religion, the Teaching of Philosophy, Ethics & Education, and the Philosophy of Catholic Education.

Alonso Alvarez

Alonso Alvarez holds a degree in History and International Relations from San Francisco State University and a Master's Degree in Globalisation, Business and Sustainable Development from the University of East Anglia. He has worked in the development sector, particularly with NGOs, in Brazil, Ecuador, Cambodia, Thailand, and Peru. He is currently based in Istanbul where he conducts research for the mass media. 


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