1st Edition

An Autoethnography of Fitting In On Spinsterhood, Fatness, and Backpacker Tourism

By Phiona Stanley Copyright 2022
    256 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    256 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    An Autoethnography of Fitting In: On Spinsterhood, Fatness, and Backpacker Tourism is a feminist narrative about the social rules of obedience and acquiescence to the norm – embodiment, heteronormativity, partnering – and about fitting in, or not, with those narratives.

    Phiona Stanley explores a period through her twenties and thirties, living and travelling alone, foreign to herself and the countries of her travel in all regards: white, cisgender, sometimes thin, sometimes fat, sometimes partnered. This fascinating volume uses these lived experiences, depicted through first-person narrative storytelling, as a prism through which to understand the subtle, social rules of gendered normative expectations. It draws on contemporary journals, letters, and photos, and features process-oriented sections that focus on the methodological possibilities these offer, and on questions of verisimilitude and subjectivity. Set in the context of transnational work in Qatar, China, and elsewhere, and "road status" as negotiated and performed among long-term backpacker tourists, this book serves as an exemplar of how autoethnography can illuminate socio-cultural normativities and their effects – which are rarely explicit, but which nevertheless have great potential to harm – while problematizing and rethinking the meanings and semantic boundaries of weight, queerness, and (hetero)normativity.

    Framed through reflexive autoethnography, with a strong focus on ethics and feminist theories, this book will appeal to students and researchers in autoethnography, qualitative methods, and gender and women's studies.

    1. Introduction 2. Appearances 3. Fatness 4. Fitting In 5. Privilege 6. Normativity 7. (Not Quite) Fitting In 8. Saving Face 9. Spinsterhood 10. In/ter/dependence 11. Chasing Approval Can Save Your Life 12. Theorizing Story/Storying Theory


    Phiona Stanley is Associate Professor of Intercultural Communications at the Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Her research interests include intercultural competence, transnational identities, decolonizing scholarship, language learning, gender, embodiment, and various aspects of tourism.

    "As Stanley writes, "so much of life is about other people's approval." We all want to fit in, to be a part of this socially constructed set of norms. Not everyone, however, can be a part of that norm. If you have ever felt that you did not fit in or that you had to compromise yourself to "belong" then An Autoethnography of Fitting In: On Spinsterhood, Fatness, and Backpacker Tourism is a book that belongs in your library." --Dr David Purnell, Mercer University, USA 

    "Phiona Stanley’s ‘Fitting In’ is a luminous blend of storytelling and critical engagement. Personal, powerful, playful, the text takes the reader on journeys that are both surprising and familiar, confronting us with what we thought we knew but didn’t. A memorable, compelling read." --Professor Jonathan Wyatt, University of Edinburgh, UK

    "This is a remarkable work of critical autoethnography and is bound to win many more scholars to its methodological and theoretical approach. In its integration of storytelling, travellers tales and cultural studies, all examined under an incisive critical eye, Phiona Stanley flips the script on fitting in. This is a work of queer queerness as literary activism conducted at the intersection between theory and memoir. Stanley’s rich life, her courage, her withering wit and her resistance to what she ultimately coins "couple-washing" deliver her to a sense of spinster selfhood that is complete, even as it remains a work-in-progress. At the same time Stanley exposes with a clear eye the many cultural tropes and narratives still to be overturned if we are ever to free ourselves from the thrall of Other People’s Approval so as to flourish in our manifold difference." -- Dr Peta Murray, RMIT Melbourne, Australia