Feelings and space

I talk a lot about emotion and affect, feelings and space, the importance of viewing familiar spaces differently.

My Ph.D thesis was heavily informed by such concepts.

I embody many liminal spaces, and places are in flux. They change depending on how I am with and how I am feeling.

When I take a familiar space and invite others into it, the place melts and I can understanding meanings that were not there before. Old feeling resurface. During the Teach Out guided walk (pictured) I walked the same campus that I did as a student in 2002. I spoke about SEV’s I had worked in. It is a strange place to inhabit.

Likewise I have a complex and ambivalent relationship with prisons and criminology. I am not speaking from text books and interviews. The place from which I speak is raw, hurt and sometimes angry. It’s an authentic place that seeks nuance and healing.

I speak from a place of stigma; associated stigma; trauma; secondary trauma.

There is a type of knowing that only comes from living an experience. I was called an ethnographer the other day and whilst it is true that I am involved in ethnography, there is a huge difference in living and being something as opposed to studying it.

There is a huge emotional toll to pay. In my thesis I am explicit about this cost, I have an entire chapter dedicated to reflexivity, in short I account for myself in my own research.

I did my Ph.D in a women’s prison and was deeply moved spiritually by the experience. After a traumatic few years in my own life, I find myself drawn back to prison spaces.

I had a very healing and motivating conversation with someone I admire this week in the church (I won’t embarrass him here). He spoke about the power of a space in showing us where we need to be.

I would like to see criminology embrace emotion more. Too often the experiences of women in particular are seen as a niche little side project as opposed to a powerful shaping force. Too often we are shouted down by ‘experts’ and people to whom ideology comes before people.

In solidarity with anyone hurting this week.

Gemma x