Disabilities in academic workplaces: experiences of human and physical geographers

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Abstract

This paper considers the experiences of 75 university-based human and physical geographers who define themselves as disabled. We explore how diverse disabilities intersect with academic careers, lifestyles and workplaces, focusing on some common disciplinary and institutional spaces of human and physical geography. We identify two self-selecting groups of geographers who participated in our research. First, we discuss the experiences of those geographers who are active and politicised in relation to their disabilities, and have worked to effect inclusionary change in their institutional and disciplinary spaces. Second, we highlight the less ‘hopeful’ experiences of geographers with mental health conditions that are undisclosed in workplace contexts. We suggest that these data should prompt reflection on the institutional and disciplinary spaces we inhabit and constitute: especially how (to quote one respondent) spaces of academia may be ‘conducive to poor mental health … [i]t is practically the norm to be sleep-deprived, working until the early hours, behind with deadlines, underpaid, on short contracts, full of caffeine and alcohol.'
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)76-89
Number of pages14
JournalTransactions of The Institute of British Geographers
Volume39
Issue number1
Early online date16 Apr 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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workplace
disability
mental health
experience
academic career
sleep
alcohol
geography
university
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Keywords

  • Disabilities
  • academia
  • human and physical geography
  • mental health
  • workplaces

Cite this

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abstract = "This paper considers the experiences of 75 university-based human and physical geographers who define themselves as disabled. We explore how diverse disabilities intersect with academic careers, lifestyles and workplaces, focusing on some common disciplinary and institutional spaces of human and physical geography. We identify two self-selecting groups of geographers who participated in our research. First, we discuss the experiences of those geographers who are active and politicised in relation to their disabilities, and have worked to effect inclusionary change in their institutional and disciplinary spaces. Second, we highlight the less ‘hopeful’ experiences of geographers with mental health conditions that are undisclosed in workplace contexts. We suggest that these data should prompt reflection on the institutional and disciplinary spaces we inhabit and constitute: especially how (to quote one respondent) spaces of academia may be ‘conducive to poor mental health … [i]t is practically the norm to be sleep-deprived, working until the early hours, behind with deadlines, underpaid, on short contracts, full of caffeine and alcohol.'",
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