Not just muddy and not always gleeful? Thinking about the physicality of fieldwork, mental health, and marginality.

Faith Tucker*, Catherine Waite, John Horton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This paper acknowledges that geographical fieldwork and fieldtrips can be deeply stressful, anxiety-inducing, troubling, miserable, hard and exclusionary for many colleagues, students and pupils. Building on the critical insights of Bracken and Mawdsley’s (2004) Muddy Glee we empirically extend disciplinary reflections on fieldwork, drawing on qualitative data from research with UK university-based Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (GEES) academics who self-identify as having mental health conditions which substantially affect their daily lives. These data prompt reflection on the nature and experience of fieldwork in two ways. First, they require acknowledgment of fieldwork as not just muddy, widening disciplinary imaginaries of fieldwork accessibility to encompass marginalities in/of Human Geography fieldwork practice. Second, contrary to pervasive disciplinary idealisations, these data demand recognition that fieldwork and fieldtrips are not necessarily gleeful but can be sites of intense latent anxiety and intersectional marginality. They evidence how fieldwork can often be experienced as sites of anxiety, isolation, marginalisation, and often silent or hidden distress. These data are not easy to read, and we argue that they require us to widen our disciplinary senses of what fieldwork is like. In conclusion we offer some prompts for reflection to think-with this unease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-568
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Early online date30 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2022


  • Fieldwork
  • Disability
  • mental health
  • Inclusion
  • UK
  • Qualitative methods
  • Geography, Planning and Development


Dive into the research topics of 'Not just muddy and not always gleeful? Thinking about the physicality of fieldwork, mental health, and marginality.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this