Dr Rachel Colls
September 2005 -
Lecturer in Human Geography
Department of Geography, Durham University
September 2002 - September 2005
Lecturer in Human Geography,
Department of Geography, University of Liverpool
PhD (2003) and MA (1999)
Department of Geography, University of Sheffield
1) Geographies of 'the body'
My interest in 'the body' is grounded in a commitment to theorising and researching the specificities of female embodied and emotional experiences. My work draws upon feminist theories of 'the body' including the work of, Elisabeth Grosz, Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler, Mariam Fraser, Moria Gatens and Elspeth Probyn. My doctoral work utilised the context of clothing consumption for eliciting the multiplicities of female embodied experience as produced through clothing and focused on the modalities of bodies that are engaged in slimming practices, that are sized, that are zoned and that look at their own and other bodies. This work has led to an interrogation of the concept of 'body image' and an exploration of the means through which women 'manage' their emotions when developing relationships with their bodies.
I am also interested in exploring the potential of this feminist work on the body for contributing to non-representational work in human geography. This involves using 'sexual difference' theory in order to make space for a 'sexed' and differentiated subject within such work.
2) Fat Bodies and Critical Approaches to Obesity
I situate my interest in obesity within recent critical interventions (Gard and Wright 2004; Le Besco 2004) which acknowledge the problematic and discriminatory practices of measuring (for example through the Body Mass Index) and moralising about fat bodies. Instead I am interested in uncovering the very nature of fat subjectivities through the narratives and practices of self-defined fat men and women, for example through the size acceptance movement in the UK and USA and through a theoretical interrogation of what constitutes bodily matter or ‘flab’.I am currently conducting a project on size friendly on-line and real life spaces in a British context. I also contextualise this interest within recent public health debates in Britain concerning children's health and childhood obesity. I have carried out research which considered the ways through which supermarkets place responsibility for children’s healthy eating through the production of children's healthy food ranges and in store health education initiatives. I have also been involved in two projects which developed a critical account of children's experiences of being weighed and measured as part of the British govenments Body Mass Index (BMI) surveillance programme involving reception (aged five) and year six (aged 10-11) students.
- Culture-Economy-Life (CEL)
- Geographies of Health and Wellbeing (GoHWell)
- Social / Spatial Theory (SST)
- Urban Worlds
- Geographies of 'the body', feminist theories of embodiment, emotions, obesity, consumption, clothing
Journal papers: academic
- Colls, R. & Fannin, M. Placental surfaces and the geographies of bodily interiors. Environment and Planning A. 2013;45:1187-1104.
- Colls, R. 'Big Girls Having Fun': Reflections on a fat accepting space. Somatechnics. 2012;2:18-37.
- Colls, R. BodiesTouchingBodies: Jenny Saville’s over-life sized paintings and the ’morpho-logics’ of fat, female bodies. Gender, Place and Culture. 2012;19:175-192.
- Colls, R. Feminism, bodily difference and non-representational geographies. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 2012;37:430-445.
- Bridge, G., Colls, R., Evans, B. & Hall, E. Moving Beyond Walkability: on the unrealised potential of health geography. Social Science and Medicine. 2012.
- Evans, B., Colls, R. & Horschelmann, K. 'Change4Life for your kids': embodied collectives and public health pedagogy. Sport, Education and Society. 2011;16:323-341.
- Colls, R. & Evans, B. Challenging Assumptions: Re-thinking the obesity 'problem'. Geography. 2010;95:99-105.
- Colls, R. & Hörschelmann, K. Editorial: Geographies of Children's and Young People's Bodies. Children's Geographies. 2009;7:1-6.
- Evans, B. & Colls, R. Measuring Fatness, Governing Bodies: The Spatialities of the Body Mass Index(BMI) in Anti-Obesity Politics. Antipode. 2009;41:1051-1083.
- Colls, R. & Evans, B. Questioning Obesity Politics: Introduction to a special issue on critical geographies of fat/bigness/corpulence. Antipode. 2009;41:1011-1020.
- Colls, R. & Evans, B. Embodying responsibility: children's health and supermarket initiatives. Environment and Planning A. 2008;40:615-631.
- Colls, R. Materialising bodily matter: Intra-action and the embodiment of 'Fat'. Geoforum. 2007;38:353-365.
- Colls, R. Outsize/Outside: Bodily bignesses and the emotional experiences of British women shopping for clothes. Gender Place and Culture. 2006;13:529-545.
- Colls, R. 'Looking alright, feeling alright': emotions, sizing and the geographies of women's experiences of clothing consumption. Social & Cultural Geography. 2004;5:583-596.
- Colls, R. Intra-body touching and the over-life sized paintings of Jenny Saville. In: Paterson, M. & Dodge, M. Touching Space, Placing Touch. Ashgate; 2012.
- Evans, B. & Colls, R. ‘Doing more good than harm’? The absent presence of children’s bodies in (anti)obesity policy'. In: Monaghan, L. Rich, E. & Aphramor, L. The Obesity Debate. Palgrave; 2010.
- Shucksmith, J., Colls, R., McNaughton, R., Ells, L. & Wilkinson, J. A pilot study to examine school-based aspects of the BMI surveillance programme in NE England. 2007.
- Colls, R, Featherstone, D, O’Brien, M & Sadler, D Transformations: changing careers, meanings and experiences of women’s political activism. A report commissioned from The University of Liverpool by UNISON North West. 2005.
- 2009: '‘A case study exploration of the production, politics and experiences of size acceptance in Britain’. Awarded by Durham University Geography Department Research Development Fund, £1000.
- 2007: ‘A pilot study to examine school-based aspects of the BMI surveillance programme in NE England’. A report based on research funded by the North East Public Health Observatory (NEPHO) (£15000). With Professor Janet Shucksmith and Ms Rebecca McNaughten, University of Teesside.
- 2006: An evaluation of the BMI Surveillance programme in North Tees PCT. Awarded by North Tees PCT, £2000. With Susan Elden, North Tees PCT.
- 2003: 'Embodying Responsibility: Corporate strategies and children's health'. Awarded by Liverpool University Research Development Fund, £3000