Research lectures, seminars and events
The events listed in this area are research seminars, workshops and lectures hosted by Durham University departments and research institutes. If you are not a member of the University, but wish to enquire about attending one of the events please contact the organiser or host department.
Health and Social Theory Research Group: Paper Presentations
All staff and students are welcome to join us for the following paper presentations.
#gainingweightiscool: The use of transformation photos among female weightlifters in recovery from eating disorders
In this paper, I explore ‘transformation photos’ on Instagram as digital artefacts that can inform our understandings of embodiment in the context of sport, exercise and health. Transformation photos are two images (from different time points) set alongside one another to represent the changing of bodies in look, shape or size. These images are prevalent within eating disorder recovery and fitness spaces on Instagram and typically display an individual’s recovery journey through a before (thin) and after (more muscular) image comparison. Using interview and netnographic data I explore this representational practice in relation to three intersecting themes. Firstly, I consider the potential harms associated with the reproduction of hegemonic, image-centric representations of recovery. I then explore the subjective significance of transformation photos as ‘mediated memories’, allowing women to reflect on and externalise psychological transitions as well as embodied processes of becoming. Finally, I caution the emphasis on internal resources and resilience present within transformation narratives and question whether the contemporary focus on personal ‘journeys’ has replaced collective action towards systemic change.
“They’d look at me like I was some sort of alien”: Young mothers, everyday stigma, and the ethical challenge of ‘borrowing’ theoretical lenses
By now, social scientists have firmly established that young/teenage mothers are subject to considerable amounts of stigma. Surprisingly, little research has examined how this stigma is played out in everyday life, as young mothers travel around the social world getting on with mundane activities. Drawing on data from group interviews with 27 young mothers, I explore how this stigma is manifested in everyday life through an omnipresent sense of scrutiny and surveillance. Our participants particularly felt that their bodies, lives, and reproductive choices were laid visible through (i) an insidious public gaze, (ii) surveillance from other, average-aged parents, and (iii) digital scrutiny by their peers. I suggest that these forms of scrutiny are the everyday manifestation of negative media and policy representations of young motherhood, which position young mothers as deviant ‘others’.
To move toward theorizing these experiences, disability studies offers several lenses and frameworks, particularly Garland-Thomson’s (2017) notion of “extraordinary bodies”. However, borrowing terms from a part of our discipline specifically focused on disabled bodies presents a number of ethical quagmires. I will talk through these dilemmas and welcome thoughts on this.
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