Mary Thomas

Mary  Thomas

Mary Thomas

Associate Professor


308 Dulles Hall

Areas of Expertise

  • Psychoanalytic and feminist theories of the subject
  • Girlhood and youth studies
  • Juvenile justice
  • Girls' experiences of detention, prison space
  • Geo-social formations, the Athropocene, Bakken oil field

Faculty Affiliate, Department of GeographyCriminal Justice Research Center, Ohio State University

Academic Background

  • PhD in Geography with minor program in Feminist Studies, University of Minnesota (2002)
  • Assistant Professor, Departments of Geography and WGSS, OSU (joint appointment 2005-2012)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, UCLA (2002-2005)

Research Interests

  • Psychoanalytic and feminist theories of the subject
  • Girlhood and youth studies
  • Juvenile justice and girls' experiences of detention, prison space
  • Geo-social formations, the Anthropocene, Bakken oil field

I study contemporary girlhood in the United States.  My 2011 book, Multicultural Girlhood, examines racial-ethnic segregation among Latino and Armenian girls at a high school in Los Angeles.  The book contributes a feminist and psychoanalytic viewpoint on the conservative racial and sexual practices of American girlhood in scholarship that has been more likely to emphasize girls’ heroic agency.   My current research explores girls’ peer relationships in an Ohio juvenile detention facility. 

In my work, I am interested in bringing a geographic lens to the lives of young women, and I have written about urban, home, and school spaces – and now, prison spaces – to do so. 

Book Publications


2019. 'Y'all trying to make a mockery out of me.' The confined sexualities of girls in a US juvenile detention facility. Emotion, Space and Society.

2017. Kathryn Yusoff and Mary Thomas. The Anthropocene. In Undine Sellbach, Lynn Turner and Ron Broglio, eds. Edinburgh Companion to Animal Studies. Edinburgh University Press.

2017. Mary Thomas and Kathryn Yusoff. Geology. In Stacy Alaimo, ed. Macmillian Interdisciplinary Handbooks, Gender: Matter.  Macmillan.

2014.  When 1+1 does not equal 2: childhood sexuality and Laplanche’s enigmatic signifier. In Paul Kingsbury and Steve Pile, eds. Psychoanalysis and Geography.  Ashgate Press, pp 199-212.

2014. Adriane Brown and Mary Thomas. “i just like knowing they can look at it and relize who i really am”: Recognition and the limits of girlhood agency on MySpace.  Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 39.4: 949-972.

2013. Feminist theory. In Rich Shein, et al., eds. The Companion to Cultural Geography.  Blackwell Press.

Teaching Interests

  • Girls studies
  • Geographies of race, gender, sexuality and age
  • Identity and social difference
  • Prison studies and US carceral society
  • Research methodology


Prof. Thomas' books Urban Geography, Multicultural Girlhood, and Social Geography.