1st Edition

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

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 30, 2021
ISBN 9781032070988
November 30, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
240 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations

USD $48.95

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Book Description

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 – fatness, 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.

Table of Contents

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

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 Dr 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.

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