Developing Emotional Territory Within the Academy: Stories and Conversation

Despite the rise in publications focusing on the emotional geography of academic spaces, there is a lack of practical responses to the neoliberal atmosphere of universities. Scholars and practitioners from a wide range of disciplines have discussed the necessity of emotional labor on the part of people of color, women, and other minority groups within university environments. As graduate students, we feel particularly powerless in the face of a culture that encourages us to hide our emotions throughout our scholarly pursuits. Simultaneously, we are intrigued by opportunities to utilize slow scholarship, solidarity, and reciprocal processes of caring-with one another to reshape these spaces and our collective experiences. This effort is particularly relevant when querying to what extent our scholarship reproduces the same systems and processes that it aims to overcome – and when leaning into a more embodied academic practice that challenges the interwoven dualisms and hierarchies of mind/body, work/life, male/female, white/other, etc.


This panel/discussion group invites stories about being emotional within the academic environment, particularly within the sciences. This is an opportunity to share frustrations, imagine successes, and generally feel things within an informal safe space. This is also a space to theorize about how our work as scholars is made through, rather than despite, these activities, and how emotions constitute the structural conditions of the academy. We hope to collectively develop a practice of making time/space for emotions, where such a culture might become not only possible, but fundamental to embodying an anti-oppressive scholarship. Some central questions include:


  • (Why) is it important to you to have (more) emotional freedom within the academy?

  • How have experiences of emotionality shaped your research, teaching, and learning processes?

  • How does the culture of the academy influence what you are willing/able to express within your scholarship?

  • To what extent have you found emotional support among colleagues, mentors, mentees, staff, etc. within academic spaces? To what extent have you provided emotional support for others?

  • How do you imagine developing emotional territory at your own institution? Who might be your allies?

  • What does emotional political ecology/environmental justice scholarly practice look/feel like?


If you are interested in participating in this panel at DOPE 2019, please email Aysha Peterson at by December 28 with a brief statement of interest.




Ahmed, S., 2013. The cultural politics of emotion. Routledge.


Askins, K. and Blazek, M., 2017. Feeling our way: academia, emotions and a politics of care. Social & Cultural Geography, 18(8), pp.1086-1105.


Evans, L. and Moore, W.L., 2015. Impossible burdens: White institutions, emotional labor, and micro-resistance. Social Problems, 62(3), pp.439-454.


Mountz, A., Bonds, A., Mansfield, B., Loyd, J., Hyndman, J., Walton-Roberts, M., Basu, R., Whitson, R., Hawkins, R., Hamilton, T. and Curran, W., 2015. For slow scholarship: A feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the neoliberal university. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(4).


Wilcox, H.N., 2009. Embodied ways of knowing, pedagogies, and social justice: Inclusive science and beyond. NWSA Journal, pp.104-120.


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