The everyday social geographies of living with epilepsy

Smith, Niall D. (2013) The everyday social geographies of living with epilepsy. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Radical, ‘eventful’ bodily vulnerability has yet to receive sustained attention in contemporary human geography. As one way of addressing the implications of existential vulnerability, this thesis explores the social geographies of people living with epilepsy. It draws upon multiple-methods research comprising an extensive mixed-methods questionnaire and semi-structured interviews, all conducted with people with epilepsy who are members of the charity, Epilepsy Scotland, the project partner. By paying attention to the (post-)phenomenological experience of ‘seizures’, the thesis argues that a failure to appreciate the complex and often extremely troubling spatialities of epileptic episodes invariably results in sustaining the stigmatisation of epilepsy and the partial views of ‘outsiders’. By exploring changed, changing and changeable relations between self, body, space, time and others, the thesis suggests that spatial behaviours in and across different places shift according to various biographical, social and illness experiences and contexts. More specifically, it contends that certain spaces become risky some or all of the time because of the body that not only threatens personal disorientation but also the very foundations of the social order. While there is a corresponding risk that individuals with epilepsy will confine themselves within the socially (although not materially) contained homeplace, many adopt active and resourceful practices, taking into account immediate time-space and embodied knowledges so as to resist being told what they can do, where and when. Disciplining the ‘epileptic body’ and environment to accommodate the unpredictability of seizures are put forward as a challenging case study for thinking through how the vital vulnerabilities of everyday life are made sense of through the very governmental regimes that they will always escape.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Social geography, epilepsy, health geography, chronic illness, emotion, risk, body boundaries.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Supervisor's Name: Philo, Professor Christopher and Parr, Dr. Hester
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Niall Smith
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4696
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2013 10:11
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2014 15:06

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