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Experiencing and embodying anxiety in spaces of academia and social research.

Todd, James D. (2021) 'Experiencing and embodying anxiety in spaces of academia and social research.', Gender, place and culture., 28 (4). pp. 475-496.


This article explores how anxiety, and its bodily affects, influences the experience of encounters within and around research spaces. Throughout, I offer up autoethnographic excerpts from field notes which contextualise my experience of anxiety while undertaking social geographical research. Through these vignettes, I ask: What does embodying anxiety in academic and research spaces feel like? How can we understand, conceptualise, and attach meaning to forces which influence how researchers experience anxiousness? And what opportunities for reflexive research practice and critical knowledge production might be created by attending to the bodies and embodied experiences of anxious researchers? Responding to these questions, I position anxiety as an affective state which, as deeply embroiled within the body and subject position of researchers experiencing anxiety, cannot be disentangled from the socio-materiality of research spaces. Recognising the relationship between anxiety and researchers’ capacities to feel embodied ‘ease’ in academic life, I encourage readers to reflect on their own experiences of anxiousness, folding these into their reflexive practices, writings, and research outputs. I conclude by urging researchers to continue to both recognise the messy realities of researcher positionality through a feminist approach attentive to the specificities of researching bodies, and move beyond privileging and perpetuating the fallacy of a detached and always-already stable researcher; tropes which continue to pervade and are consciously privileged within academic spheres. Doing so, I argue, could enable researchers to push against the boundaries of what is deemed acceptable to feel and embody in academia.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Gender, place and culture on 17 February 2020 available online:
Date accepted:16 January 2020
Date deposited:20 February 2020
Date of first online publication:17 February 2020
Date first made open access:20 February 2020

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