Critical geographies of body size (2008)

Author(s): Hopkins PE

    Abstract: The study of various markers of social identity has been a central focus for much work within social and cultural geography for around 30 years now. Although this work has arguably reached a critical mass within the discipline, certain indicators of identity and markers of social and cultural difference have been neglected within human geography. In particular, there is a lack of research that focuses on critical geographies of body size, with the exception of a small literature about fat bodies. Drawing on three trends within the social identities literature within human geography as well as from recent research in neighbouring disciplines, I suggest various ways in which human geographers might seek to develop critical geographies of body size. First, it is proposed that the focus on fat bodies could usefully be extended to include the experiences of those who are thin, small or tall. Second, following other work about social identities in geography, work about body size could benefit from a perspective informed by social inequality and political action. Third, exploring the intersection of body size with other social identities and markers of difference could advance research in this area by excavating the multiple and overlapping ways in which people's body size influence and are shaped by their negotiations of everyday places.

      • Journal: Geography Compass
      • Volume: 2
      • Issue: 6
      • Pages: 2111-2126
      • Publication type: Article
      • Bibliographic status: Published

      Professor Peter Hopkins
      Professor of Social Geography