Royal Geographical Society with IBG International Conference 2021

It has been a busy year at RGS this year where I presented three papers on diverse topics including, COVID-19 the recovery of tourism in historic cities, experiences of restricted leisure through the use of the cycling app Zwift and of course mountaineering.

My papers were as follows:


With Katrina Myrvang Brown, James Hutton Institute


With Dr Paul Barratt, Stafford University

BEYONd COVID-19: Re-purposing tourism: Engaging our radical in a Northern English Tourist-Historic City

With Dr Brendan Paddision, York St John University

I had the great pleasure to Co-chair Dr Anna de Jong and Professor Gordon Waitt’s session on Food Geographies and I was re-elected Treasurer for the Geographies and Leisure Tourism Research Group.

Here is my paper for Dr Jonathan Westaway and Paul Gilchrist session on Mountaineering and Everest as a place of exception:



This paper explores the enduring appeal of adventurous white masculinities and the impact this has on women mountaineers. 

It stemmed from our experiences of mountain guiding and a curiosity to understand the experiences of women mountaineers. Broadly the research explored the sensory and emotional experiences of professional women mountaineers and how these are impacted upon by socio-political influences in extreme adventure tourism settings.

Our research explores the emotional labour experienced when managing risk and how this limits access to the social and material spaces of mountains in, gendered ways. We offer a feminist affective analysis of the structural inequalities experienced by professional mountain guides (United Kingdom). This presentation focuses on the emotional labour experienced when managing risk and how this limits access to the social and material spaces of mountains in, gendered ways.

To do this we explore how:

1) Governance structures in mountaineering codify and grade mountaineering spaces and places

2) And how grading as a governing structure produces extreme spaces of risk through the hidden practice of women solo mountain climbing

Mountains are increasingly commodified leisure and tourism spaces that provide opportunities for adventure, generating imaginative and material ideas of risk. Rooted in a legacy of imperialism and gendered traditions, these experiences often feed into narratives that reify the trope of the heroic and intrepid adventurer (Ortner, 1999).

More broadly as, feminist tourism scholars Ferguson & Alarcon (2015) argue, gender equality in tourism has yet to be systematically integrated in policy and practice. In adventure tourism, this is acutely apparent where even a casual glance into hypermasculine adventure cultures reveals systemic inequalities associated with gender, race, dis/ablement and age (Hough MacKenzie & Raymond, 2020; Beames, Mackie, Atencio, 2019; Frohlick 2005, Ortner, 1999).


To illustrate, the 22nd of May 2019 hit the headlines with the extraordinary image of over 220 people queuing to summit the highest point on earth, Mount Everest (Arnette, 2019). Only twenty-nine were and none were guides (figures relate to the South Route considered to be the easiest and thus most popular) (Salisbury, 2021). Despite a booming adventure tourism industry and the rapid commodification of high-altitude mountain places (Cater, 2013), it is striking that in the twenty-first century, so few women are represented. Such statistics provide fresh impetus for interrogating how inequality in the apparatus of adventure tourism is perpetuated.

Women have made a significant but hidden contribution to mountaineering due in no small part to the “complicated relationship of nationalism, colonialism, and masculinity at play” (Hunt, 2019, 2). However, mountaineering is rooted in a powerful legacy of male-dominated clubs and governing institutions founded on masculine norms. These clubs assumed responsibility for codifying and grading mountains that govern spatial practices in mountaineering in two ways. Firstly, by establishing traditions based on making first ascents of mountains, of which, very few are by women. All first ascents were graded by their difficulty and recorded in official guidebooks and records published by the clubs. Grades are symbolic of risk, the higher the grade the greater the risk where protection is virtually absent and the climber is effectively soloing. Secondly, mountains are codified through masculine emotions and expressions such as bravery, strength, aggression and heroism (Roche, 2015; Colley, 2010). Displays of heroism became synonymous with mountaineering and socially transmitted through rules that have evolved over generations that govern how to be a good mountaineer (Beedie, 2003, Barrett & Martin, 2016)). Emotions perceived as feminine are hidden, such as empathy, care, and fear (Frohlick, 2006). Femininity is virtually absent in the codification of mountain spaces and places as tourist and leisure destinations where grades, govern and are shared constructed and performed largely through the lens of the male body.

The impacts are threefold, firstly, climbing hard grades secure reputations and places intense pressure on mountain guides to perform in spaces of extreme physical risk. Doing so enables them to secure social and economic benefits. Secondly, women mountaineers are perceived as transgressing femininity and familial gender norms by engaging in risk (Dilley & Scraton, 2010; Frohlick, 2006).  Thirdly, to survive in this emotional battleground women have historically internalized and reproduced colonial values in mountaineering leaving traditions that govern how mountaineering is performed and reproduced largely untroubled (Taylor, 2006).

Theoretical Framework

We drew on Sara Ahmed’s (2004) work to explore ‘how broader structures of power and injustice are (re)produced’ (Everingham & Motta, 2020, 3). Emotions as Ahmed attests have histories that are shared and replicated – this is no more evident than in the familiar trope of the mountaineering hero. Through this framework, we explored how heroism becomes an affective economy (Ahmed, 2004) through the grading of bodies that drives extreme forms of risk-taking and the emotional labour, dissonance or discomfort experienced through incongruence between displayed and felt emotions (Hochschild, 2012 [1983]).


Data was co-produced inductively over the course of seven winter mountaineering days with seven women mountaineers in the United Kingdom (UK). Experimental go-alongs were used to collect video ethnographic data via GoPro Hero 3s.

Data analysis involved deep reflection that was triangulated using film footage, semi-structured interviews and field diaries. NVivo provided a powerful platform for analysis, twenty-five codes and sub-codes emerged from the data and themed, under codes such as soloing, silence, well-being and grading (Braun & Clark, 2012).

Findings & Analysis

Our findings demonstrate how affect has a profound influence on how individuals gain access and legitimacy (or not) to particular groups, formally and informally. We argue that the grading structures that govern mountaineering produce inequalities that downgrade women’s bodies in numerous ways and are closely tied to how reputations are embodied.

Reputation is everything in mountaineering – we found that all the research participants expressed how having a name is a big thing in the outdoor industry. Mountaineering identities are built upon producing a logbook of extreme risk-based climbing achievements. Despite having the correct identity and credentials women struggled to achieve recognition from their clients (male & female) frequently experiencing what research participant Selkie expressed as that ‘Dip in the shoulders when they are given [Annabel] or myself on mountaineering course’. This produced an exhausting daily ritual of self-masculinisation where they recounted heroic stories of hard grades/mountaineering routes they had climbed. Downgrading women’s mountaineering bodies has a heritage that can be traced to the late 1880s, for example, Elisabeth Le Blond’s phenomenal first winter ascents in the Alps were downgraded and attributed to her male guide technical skill (Gifford, 2013).

Such discrimination remains unchallenged because Fernando & Prasad (2018, 10) point out ‘negative consequences follow those who challenge the system’ driven by the fear of losing economic and social status. The emotional labour involved in managing grading or gradism means, women ‘have to work twice as hard’ (Arnot Reid, 2017) and take’ what one research participant expressed ‘as whatever the mountain throws at us’. The gendered nature of being a good mountaineer governs and grades bodies. More broadly, we argue, gradism, contaminates the sensory fabric of mountaineering destinations circulating as an affective economy manifest in route names, style of ascent, climbing performance and representation.

Governance & Gradism

The value placed on grades and climbing extremely difficult routes is institutional and pervades structural inequalities. For example, during a national review of the highest UK mountaineering qualification Mountain Climbing Instructor (Winter) Selkie challenged the proposed upgrading of the level aspirants must demonstrate from grade 3 winter to grade 5. In voicing her concerns that such a move was dangerous Selkie risked both social and economic status leading her to consider stepping down from a role leading the winter mountaineering programme at one of the National Mountaineering Centres. She experienced a competitive gradism that challenged her status and identity as a good mountaineer, producing intense emotional labour manifest in feeling weak, lacking competence and shame. Illustrating how gradism works as an affective economy that sticks to mountain-climbing bodies silencing difference and vulnerabilities (Ahmed, 2004).

Soloing in Work

Climbing hard grades produces structural inequalities in working environments, for example, Lorrie had worked hard to build a reputation with her new employer and colleagues and the chief way of working was to ‘onsight’ the climbs when leading clients. In mountaineering, an informal code requires the leader to climb a route without having any prior knowledge of it physically, apart from the route description contained within a guidebook. This is classed as onsighting.  To receive assistance whilst climbing is perceived as weak and can lead to social shaming (Lewis, 2000). To onsight a route ramps up the pressure on the leader because all the unknowns of the climb must be worked through in situ. This, combined with leading unknown clients who may not be competent climbers themselves means the leader must be sure they can not only climb the grade but can solo the route.

Soloing is steeped in a history of heroism and is the riskiest form of mountaineering where a mountaineer climbs alone with minimal and no protection. As a result, the research participants were under pressure to lead at their limit to satisfy the demands of clients and employers. We argue that onsighting is an example of a gradist affective economy signifying valued masculine traits such as, heroism, risk-taking and strength, attributable to the gradist social control mechanisms that form the moral boundaries (Eger, 2021) of being a good mountaineer. The fear of social shaming prevented Lorrie from speaking to her employers to seek help, forcing her to accept physical risks involved as preferable to the social risks of appearing weak or incompetent because this would significantly impact her professional status socially and economically.

The precarity of working in such a gendered environment makes women mountain guides like Lorrie vulnerable and renders them powerless to challenge such inequalities. As such, the emotional labour produced by onsighting was significant with Lorrie expressing how the fear of ‘failing and how I was perceived in front of peers, all that stuff is exhausting’.

The pressure to perform also impacts on personal/leisure time where mountain guides feel compelled to climb at even harder grades to maintain a sense of bodily power, confidence and control to meet the expectations placed on them.

Solo Climbing in Leisure

Structural inequalities were also evident in leisure spaces: Within leisure five research participants used soloing as a tactic to avoid unwelcomed surveillance this had a dual purpose of alleviating sensations of toxic competition and enabling them to secure social status. This was not without consequence and produced emotional labour.

For leisure, Lorrie planned a two-day solo winter climbing experience.  On the first day, she had an amazing experience but abandoned her second climbing day. She attributed this to sharing her experiences with her peers after the first day. Sharing her success ruptured her ability to disengage from social norms. Emotional politics impacted in two ways; firstly, adherence to normative values of risk and femininity (Dilley & Scraton, 2010); secondly using her experiences to build social status as a good mountaineer – that pushed her into a space of risk beyond her limit. The consequence meant ‘It stopped Her enjoying going climbing that winter for leisure as ‘it was just too pressured’. The impact of engaging in spaces of extreme risk during work and leisure led to Lorrie cease mountaineering – she was burnt out.

Soloing is a tightly controlled space with many functions that are embodied in the gradist sensory politics of being a good mountaineer. Soloing circulates as an affective economy that reifies normative masculinities where risk is agentive for men (Eger, 2021). As Eger (2021, p.8) points out ‘this contrasts with women’s experiences, who learn to consider their social interactions and movements through an internalization of risk, to keep safe’ and be modest for fear of reprisal. This conflict produces significant emotional labour. As such, there is a hidden history of women mountaineers engaging in soloing notably: UK’s Alison Hargreaves, French climber Catherine Destivelle and the American mountaineer Steph Davies. Following her solo ascent of the Grand Jorasses Destivelle noted that she soloed so that ‘nobody can now say that it was my climbing partner, male of course, who did all the work’(Destivelle, 2015, p.186).


For the research participants solo mountaineering is a product emotional labour involved in proving that they are good mountaineers. A good mountaineer is graded through masculine heroic qualities that circulate as an affective economy producing extreme risk spaces, performances and thus, destinations. In sum, gender is consequential in mountaineering and inequality sits at the heart of one of its governing structures – grading. In sum, topographically, morphologically, geographically and culturally mountain spaces are codified by masculine ways to sense, feel and be.

Drawing on Ahmed (2004) we experimented with a new way to research how identity, place and power are constituted through embodied experiences of tourism practices (Buda et al. 2014, 104). Our contribution flags a clear need to take seriously the affective geographies of the tourist encounter and how particular places and environments become co-constituted with affective economies and in our case how women mountaineers experience and mitigate structural inequalities in spaces of adventure tourism. This chimes with calls to redouble efforts to address issues of decolonisation and diversity in tourism studies (Chambers & Buzinde, 2015). 


Ahmed, S. (2004). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.

Arnette., A. (2019). Everest by numbers: 2019 Edition. The Blog on [Internet], Available: Accessed: 12 June 2019.

Arnot Reid, M. (2017) The Alpinist: Melissa Arnot Reid [Internet]. Available from [Accessed 17 May 2017].

Barrett, E., & Martin, P. (2016) Extreme: Why some people thrive at the limits. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Beedie, P. (2003) Mountain guiding and adventure tourism: Reflections of the choreography of the experience. Leisure Studies, 22 (2), pp. 147 – 167.

Braun, V., & Clark, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, (3) 2, pp. 77 – 101, DOI: 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Buda, D. M., d’Hauteserre, A. M., & Johnston, L. (2014). Feeling and tourism studies. Annals of Tourism Research, 46, 102-114.

Cater, C. (2013) The meaning of adventure. In: Taylor, S., Varley, P., and Johnston, T. eds. Adventure tourism, meanings, experience and learning. Oxon, Routledge, pp. 5 – 18.

Chambers, D., & Buzinde, C. (2015). Tourism and decolonisation: Locating research and self. 51, Annals of Tourism Research pp. 1-16

Colley, A.C. (2010) Victorians and the Mountains: Sinking the sublime. Farnham, UK, Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Destivelle, C. (2015). Rock Queen. Kirby Stephen, Hayloft Publishing Ltd.

Dilley, R. E., & Scraton, S. J. (2010). Women, climbing and serious leisure. Leisure Studies, 29(2), 125-141.

Eger, C. (2021). Gender matters: Rethinking violence in tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 88, 103143.

Everingham, P., & Motta, S. C. (2020). Decolonising the ‘autonomy of affect’ in volunteer tourism encounters. Tourism Geographies, 1–21.

Ferguson, L., & Alarcón D., M. (2015) Gender and sustainable tourism: reflections on theory and practice. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 23 (3), pp. 401 – 416.

Fernando, D., & Prasad, A. (2018). Sex-based harassment and organizational silencing: How women are led to reluctant acquiescence in academia. Human Relations, 72(10), 1565–1594.

Frohlick, S. (2006) Wanting children and wanting K2: The incommensurability of motherhood and mountaineering in Britain and North America in the late twentieth century. Gender, Place and Culture, 13 (5), pp. 477 – 490.

Gifford, T. (2013) Early mountaineers achieve both summits and publication in Britain and America. In: Gomez Reus, T., and Gifford T. eds.  in Transit through Literary Liminal Spaces. London, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 91 – 106.

Hochschild, A. R. (2012 [1983]). The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, University of California Press, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Hunt, R. (2019). Historical geography, climbing and mountaineering: route setting for an inclusive future. Geography Compass, 13(4), e12423.

Lewis, N. (2000) The climbing body, nature and the experiences of modernity. Body and Society, 6 (3-4), pp. 58 – 80.

Ortner, B.S. (1999) Life and death on Mount Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan mountaineering. Oxfordshire, Princeton University Press.

Roche, C. (2015) The Ascent of : How women mountaineers explored the Alps 1850 – 1900. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

Sailsbury (2021) Personal Correspondence Himalyan Mountain Trust.

Taylor, J. (2006). Mapping adventure: a historical geography of Yosemite Valley climbing landscapes. Journal of historical geography, 32(1), 190-219.

Book Review

Leveraging disability sport events: impacts, promises, and possibilities

by L. Misener, G. McPherson, D. McGillivray and D. Legg, Oxfordshire, New York, Routledge, 2019, (PBK), ISBN 9780367520267; (HBK), ISBN 9781138090781; (eBK), ISBN 9781315108469

Jenny Hall Published online: 23 Mar 2021

Download here

Once again a busy month here is the article:

Leveraging Disability Sport Events is a monograph founded upon a longitudinal research project of global scope and scale. The volume provides insight into the social and political phenomenon concerning how large-scale sporting events are used to influence societal structures to garner equity. Over three-years, the researchers investigated the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 (G2014) and the Toronto Pan-Am/Parapan American Games 2015 (TO215) producing an in-depth case study ‘to offer learnings from other countries and contexts’ (Chapter 1, 1). The book explores how parasports are used for community development; strategic alignment between event strategies; and impacts and outcomes for addressing disability issues, such as accessibility, participation and policy. The authors challenge scholars, event organisers and governments at all levels to consider how events are positioned, used and leveraged to create positive social change pre, during and post-event. Through the lens of critical disability studies, the research makes a significant contribution by highlighting the imbalance of power affecting social and political considerations concerning how persons of disability access societal structures. Following Shildrick (2007, p. 233), the study is founded in neither a rights-based or citizenship-based approach but seeks ‘to extend and productively critique the achievements of working through more modernist paradigms of disability’ (Chapter 1). In doing so, this multi-disciplinary, multi-site and interdisciplinary project exposes how disability remains subject to systemic discrimination and oppression in large scale event production.

The researchers ask us to rethink relations between disabled and non-disabled designations in terms of ethics and ontology, exposing how sports events spaces and places are key sites of power that privilege dominant ableist values. Similarly, to Brittain and Beacom’s (2016) work on the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the findings demonstrate how persons with disabilities are included/excluded and expose the imbalance of power and privilege that reproduce norms of ability. The researchers identify a dearth in the literature that examines disability sports events and in particular studies that have applied a leveraging lens to understand the social impact of parasport events. Further suggesting that an absence of literature that explores how social change takes place in parasport events is compounded by a lack of critical scrutiny that leads parasports events to reinforce and replicate inequality in urban spaces. As such, the book contributes new insight on how city-bid processes over-inflate claims that disability sports events can ‘fix’ urban problems, yet they fail to substantively deliver on promises made and thus, legacy.

This volume provides key insight on how G2014 and TO2015 events were subject to systemic policy failure due, in part, to a lack of back-up with appropriate funding, resources and expertise for implementation on ‘promises made’ beyond the games. The authors argue that the strategy, ‘Awareness is Enough,’ failed to deliver and they therefore identify that strategy can only work if it is activated through appropriate resourcing (Chapter 4, 70). For example, leveraging change was too detached from the organisation and management of the G2014 event, which created tension between the rhetoric of ‘opportunity’ and the claims that the games had created and delivered enhanced accessibility. Moreover, key tensions between a welfarist, in contrast to entrepreneurial models concerning marketisation of disability sports events, were prevalent. Although mainstream media has significant potential to change perceptions about disability, the authors found that para-athletes were predominantly (mis)represented through ‘inspirational’ or ‘brave’, medicalised and ‘supercrip’ narratives. These narratives rarely showed impairment. This framing reinforces media-constructed realities that are divorced from the everyday lives of persons with disabilities and are in danger of commercialising the growth in parasports. The researchers suggest that such narratives serve to marginalise para-athletes by framing them as ’other’ and exacerbate social and spatial inequalities. However, it was identified that para-athletes had begun to resist such representations through self-generated social media content, creating a new paradigm for media circulation that challenges ableist mainstream media representations.

Through a comparative analysis of management models that integrate parasports into the main event, in contrast to distinct and separate parasports events that run in parallel, the merits and challenges are explored. Analysis of the implications and impact both models have across several domains is made including the effectiveness of management committees; policy development; representation in marketing and media and how this influences the attitudes and behaviours of spectators and volunteers; volunteer training and development and finally an assessment of the legacies achieved and to what extent. Notably the researchers conducted a large-scale survey of both volunteers and spectators. Using an adapted version of Scale of Attitudes Towards Disabled Persons (SADP) the researchers aimed to understand if there was any behavioural and attitudinal change because of the games. By developing a new global measure to analyse global attitudinal change the researchers found a significant difference between integrated and non-integrated models, with a non-integrated model having a greater impact. However, it was found that attitudes and awareness did not change significantly for either volunteers or spectators. The authors note the limits of their research in terms of its focus on para-events taking place in the West and the need for research that explores other cultures and regions.

Analysis of organisational management committees and functions showed that caution is required in the adoption of either model. Integrated models offered economies of scale and specific parasport management functions that had the power to influence from within. However, in G2014 this proved ineffectual when it came to leveraging the event’s potential and the authors argue that integrated models risk marginalising parasport aspects. The non-integrated model adopted by TO2015 showed that para-events have distinction and emphasis on legacy planning when organised in separate models, but risk exclusion from key decision-making. In sum, there is no clear approach, and the authors make a call for further research. In parallel with Brittain and Beacom (2016, p. 516) findings, both games showed agency in providing a platform for engaging in debate about disability issues but as shown ‘can create as many problems as they solve’. As such, each event was subject to systemic, political, societal and ideological challenges that no ‘Paralympic Games can in itself hope to counter … In a very real sense each Games is a child of its time’ (Brittain & Beacom, 2016, p. 516).

In sum, this book will appeal to scholars, event organisers and public authorities. It provides a critical analysis of how parasports events present unique opportunities to leverage social change for persons of disability. It does so, through highlighting key pitfalls and challenges for delivering upon the promises made to deliver long-lasting social change and thus legacy.


Call for Book Chapters

Gender in mountaineering adventure and leisure: Transformational change, politics, and experience

The codification of mountaineering, as a male-dominated activity, has changed little since the conjoining of adventure-ness to questions of modernity and manliness established during the Victorian period as a leisure and nation-building sport. This hypermasculine mountaineering legacy based on male institutions and styles of interaction has silenced the achievements of others (Hall, 2018; Frohlick, 2006; Ortner, 1999). Those of race, dis/ability, gender, sexuality other than the dominant norm (white heterosexual middle-class males from the West), are significantly underrepresented in mountaineering (Miller & Mair, 2019). Topographically and geographically femininity is virtually absent in the classification of mountain spaces and places as sporting and leisure destinations. As such, the mainstreaming of gender within current governance structures in mountaineering and mountain spaces and places has a long way to go before such inequalities are properly addressed. However, despite these challenges, those other than the dominant norm are using mountaineering to resist, rather than submit, to these constraints by employing a broad range of strategies that enables their participation (Evans & Anderson 2018). In doing so, they challenge traditional gendered discourse in mountaineering and thus hegemonic ideas about gender.

This international collection will feature contributions from a group of leading and emerging researchers and practitioners of mountaineering. As such, the volume seeks authors representing theoretical as well as applied perspectives across, adventure, tourism, sports coaching, geography, and sociology. For the first time, this book will explore the gendered nature of mountain adventure spaces and places, providing a deep analysis of the impact and inequalities that exist within mountaineering. Although scholarship on gender and inequality in sport is well documented (LaVoi & Baeth, 2018; Norman, 2010; 2018) there is a paucity of literature that investigates gender inequality in mountaineering and mountain adventure (Hall, 2018; Pomfret & Doran, 2015). The volume will offer insight across feminist, intersectional, poststructural, humanistic, affective, phenomenological and material perspectives focusing on transformation. The aim is to explore how gender matters in the 21st century, and the need for greater effort to identify change and improve equality in adventure sporting spaces. This book will be of interest to students, scholars in the fields of sociology of sport, physical culture, geography, anthropology, gender studies, leisure, tourism, sporting history, coaching, pedagogy, and education.

Through a broadly interdisciplinary approach which calls for scholarship across philosophy, geography, anthropology, social psychology, sport, and broadly the social sciences, the editors are looking for both theoretical and empirical chapters which interrogate and elucidate upon gender, inequality and the creation of transformational spaces in mountaineering.

Chapters may include but are not limited to:

  • Gender
  • Intersectionality of Sexuality, Race, Gender and Disability
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Sustainability/Environment
  • Education
  • Fitness
  • Wellbeing/Mental Health
  • Widening Participation
  • Travel/Borders/Transnationalism
  • Genre
  • Reality/Truth/Authenticity
  • The Reification of the Hero
  • Deviant leisure
  • Globalism/localism/Covid-ism
  • Spirituality/Sublime
  • Haptics/Sensuality
  • Emotion/affect/phenomenology
  • Politics/Governance
  • Subversion/psychology
  • Elitism/Exclusivity
  • Femininity/Masculinity
  • Death/Risk/Exposure
  • Representation in Film, Social Media, Marketing in the Private and Public Sector
  • Leisure/tourism

Please submit a 300-word abstract and a 200-word biography to: by 30 November 2020.


Evans, K., Anderson, D.M. (2018). ‘It’s never turned me back: Female mountain guides’ constraint negotiation. Annals of Leisure Research, 21 (1), pp. 9 – 31.

Hall, J. (2018) Women Mountaineers: A study of affect, sensoria and emotion. Thesis, York, York St John University.

Frohlick, S. (2006) Wanting children and wanting K2: The incommensurability of motherhood and mountaineering in Britain and North America in the late twentieth century. Gender, Place and Culture, 13 (5), pp. 477 – 490.

LaVoi, N. M., & Baeth, A. (2018). Women and sports coaching. In L. Mansfield, J. Caudwell, and B. Wheaton (Eds), The Palgrave Handbook of Feminism and Sport, Leisure and Physical Education (pp. 149-162). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Miller, M., Mair, H. (2019). Between space and place in mountaineering: navigating risk, death, and power Tourism Geographies, (1)16, doi: 10.1080/14616688.2019.1654538

Norman, L. (2010). Feeling second best: Elite women coaches’ experiences. Sociology of Sport Journal, 27(1), 89-104.

Norman, L. (2018). ‘“It’s sport, why does it matter?”’ Professional coaches’ perceptions of equity training. Sports Coaching Review, 7(2), 190-211.

Ortner, B.S. (1999) Life and death on Mount Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan mountaineering. Oxfordshire, Princeton University Press.

Pomfret, G., Doran, A. (2015) Gender and mountaineering tourism. In: Musa, G., Higham, J., and Thompson-Carr, A. eds. Mountaineering Tourism. London, Routledge, pp. 138 – 155.

N.B The proposal will be submitted to:

Global Culture and Sport Series – Palgrave Macmillan (sociology of sport and leisure)

Wagg, S (Ed), Andrews, D. (Ed)

The Global Culture and Sport series aims to contribute to and advance the debate about sport and globalization by engaging with various aspects of sport culture as a vehicle for critically excavating the tensions between the global and the local, transformation and tradition and sameness and difference. With studies ranging from snowboarding bodies, the globalization of rugby and the Olympics, to sport and migration, issues of racism and gender, and sport in the Arab world, this series showcases the range of exciting, pioneering research being developed in the field of sport sociology.

Researching Women Mountaineers, United Kingdom, 2020

Our final version is completed. Thank you to Dr Adele Doran at Sheffield Hallam University for your patience and contribution in making this a reality.

Adele and I have both independently recently completed our PhD research theses that explore the experiences of women who mountaineer. Adele’s research concentrates on recreational participants and my research explores the experiences of professional female mountain leaders and guides in the UK. Following a discussion last year we agreed to co-write a report that combined some of our research findings that would be pertinent to public organisations like Mountain Training, United Kingdom,British Mountaineering Council and the wider public and private mountaineering community. The report offers insight concerning inequalities in mountain leadership and wider participation. Specifically, it presents the constraints on women’s participation and leadership in climbing and mountaineering, the strategies women use to negotiate these constraints and the benefits they gain. It concludes with a series of recommendations for development and research.

In January we met with Mountain Training, United Kingdom to share and discuss our draft report. Mountain Training kindly gave us feedback and we have since made revisions here is the final version.

You can find a link the report at: Researching Women Mountaineers

Book Review: Deviant Leisure

Privileged to write a review for this new book by Dr Thomas Raymen and Dr Oliver Smith. A timely call for us to adopt a less individualist and more prosocial way of life.

Raymen, T., & Smith, O. (2019) Deviant Leisure: Criminological Perspectives on Leisure and Harm. Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-030-17735-5 ISBN 978-3-030-17736-2 (eBook)

Deviant Leisure Book Review

Dr Jenny Hall – 2 March 2020

Thomas Raymen and Oliver Smith draw upon a diverse range of cutting edge research, challenging readers to rethink the impact of twenty-first-century consumer capitalism embedded in our treasured and coveted leisure experiences. The volume broadens Raymen and Smith’s (chapter 2) theory of the ‘deviant leisure perspective’ by blending conceptual analysis with case studies which comprehensively expands the scope of their framework. The largely ethnographic case studies illustrate, through a range of experimental methods, the harms that are normalised and embedded in our everyday leisure pursuits. The book makes an important contribution to both criminology and leisure by applying a criminological lens to problematise the commonly held notion that all leisure is good (Rojek, 2010). By encompassing a wide milieu of perspectives, the research analyses how the fitness industry, tourism, digital pastimes, pornography, clubbing, gambling, parkour and even leisure within prison life are experienced through a range of power geometries. Questioning what leisure can produce, brings into view how harms are hidden, yet pervasive, in contemporary consumer leisure cultures. Raymen and Smith conclude by offering an alternative conceptualisation of a leisure-world that is prosocial that moves us beyond the capitalist drivers of hedonistic consumption underpinning our global crisis (chapter 2).
The book explores deviant leisure scholarship through several under-researched themes. Firstly it robustly challenges the consumption of leisure as an assumed right, demonstrating that by elevating leisure beyond the status of a ‘social good’, to being an inalienable right (Rojek, 2010) we have created a leisure-world of harm that affects social, environmental and economic security. Raymen and Smith (Chapter 2) critique the unworldly idealism that continues within leisure studies scholarship and ask what leisure spaces would look if they were decommoditised, deindividualised and co-constitutive. Through demonstrating how harm is present within the most familiar forms of commodified leisure, they show through examples such as the ‘Bucket List’ or the ‘The Big Night Out’, how such leisured desires persistently fail to deliver the hedonism that commodified leisure spaces promote (Chapter 2). This illustrates how we relentlessly pursue the individual project of leisure to see and do all those things that we believe will provide fulfilment in life, yet consistently fail to realise them. Moreover, they illustrate how individualism is deficient and can only lead to dissatisfaction in the things we lack in life and ultimately favours private citizenship over the public good, thus showing how we are committed to the norms and values of late-capitalist consumer culture (Chapter 3). Winlow (chapter 3), applies the lens of ultra-realism to argue that the decomposition of civic society is where the academy should focus attention to consider how the continuation of capitalism and the problems of democracy should be tackled to build a sustainable future. Theorising the commodification of leisure as a form of deviancy is a foundational theme enabling the interrogation of the pervasive and embedded harms this process produces in consumer culture. 2

A second core theme centres on how harm is consumed through the pursuit of what Hayward and Turner (Chapter 6) and Ayres (Chapter 7) refer to as ‘cool individualism’; where creating a sense of individual authenticity is founded in past mythologies, hallmarked by hedonistic abandon in the all-out, rampaging, no prisoners taken, hedonism of Ibiza or any pub and club filled high street in the United Kingdom. Veblen’s concept of ‘conspicuous consumption’ illustrates how the drive for personal distinction is manipulated by the ideological dominance of consumer capitalism and phoney counter culturalism. Ayres’ (Chapter 7) insightful exploration of the concept of the 24hr city night-time economy (NTE) demonstrates how harm is produced, symbolically charged and re-engineered via the institutional controls that both infantilise and commercialise excess associated with demonstrating conspicuous luxury and differentiated consumer status. Moreover, NTE is a space of ‘riskless-risk’ where intoxication of substances licit or illicit is hyper-normalised and homogenised through the aggressive marketing of city leisure spaces. Demonstrating how institutional and regulatory powers both create special spaces for and turn a blind eye to harmful behaviours that treat intoxication as a leisure activity in itself. Ayres (Chapter 7) argues that excludes those who exist on the margins of society and are often blamed when alcohol and illicit drug misuse spill out of these spaces of control. She shows how structurally embedded harms of exclusion are initiated through processes of social-cleansing that exclude and criminalise non-consumers such as rough sleepers and sex workers that discriminates across the lines of race, gender and class. In contrast, spatial exclusion can also lead to a paradox where criminal or socially deviant behaviours produce ‘cool transgressive’ identities such as young people who participate in city-based free running or Parkour. Raymen explores how transgressive activities feed an ever-hungry consumer culture looking for the next cool brand and is a vital and a deliberate component of consumerism’s cultural-economic apparatus (Chapter 16).
Thus, the theme of individualism and hyper-individualism is central to the identity of the leisure-seeker, where the taking of drugs, sports participation and surgery to enhance body image and status are bound in selfhood and semiotic markers of cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1977). This is acutely illustrated through how technology is harnessed in pursuit of self-expression and identity-making. Hall (chapter 8) discusses how social media tools, such as Instagram, mirror society’s neoliberal valorisation of the unattainable ego, where we constantly reconstruct self-image in a co-created technologically facilitated process of capital accumulation. The production and digitisation of leisure spaces within gaming, gambling, pornography, urban trespass, parkour and fight clubs in prisons that facilitate thrill-seeking, Hall argues, produces a denial of harm, emotional glaciation and diminishment of the recognition of humanity (chapter 8). Atkinson suggests that digital miniaturisation and connectivity has enabled an unbounding of taboo and produced new economies predicated on harm and gender-based violence (Chapter 10). He asks an important question of how this will change our emotional life in the hyper-masculine world of gaming, which is a point that could be applied more broadly to our wider digital worlds. It also raises new questions of social control, regulation and censorship within media more broadly (chapter 10).
Foundational to individualism is our anthropocentric approach to the pursuit of self-fulfilment that White argues is leading us to kill the thing we profess to love – the natural environment. He posits that tourism is deviance on a grand scale and that the environmental harms tourism produces is human harm (White Chapter 13). The deviant leisure approach offers tourism scholars a new lens to explore sustainability in the context of a rapidly growing and increasingly damaging global tourism industry. White argues that our denial of the harm tourism creates and drive to ‘consume, be silent and die is the mantra of twenty-first-century global capitalism’ epitomises a possessive individualism that leads to systemic damage that no one wants to claim responsibility for. Luxury, cheap flights ‘see it before it’s gone’ and ‘getting off the beaten track’, ecotourism and volunteer tourism create 3

moral economies where westerners find security in finding problems they feel they can do something about all produce harms as a result of pursuing leisure through travel (Large, Chapter 15).
Thoughtfully weaving a breadth of theory with rich case studies and academic concerns with the commodification of leisure, Deviant Leisure offers a comprehensive framing for academics and students to critically think through the harms that our leisure activities produce across criminology, leisure and the wider social sciences. There is work to be done to further establish experimental methodological approaches for exploring deviant leisure and criminological scholars could benefit from broader interdisciplinarity through drawing on scholarship across the social sciences such as geography. This is acknowledged in Raymen’s call for criminology to recommit itself to new cultural, political-economic and psychoanalytical critiques of consumer capitalism which, through harm-based or the deviant leisure perspective, could expand our understanding of the harms that are continuously emerging at the intersection of commodified leisure, technology and consumer capitalism (Chapter 12).
Bourdieu, P. (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Rojek, C. (2010) The Labour of Leisure: The Culture of Free Time. London, Sage.
Veblen, T. (1992) Theory of the Leisure Class. London, Transactions Publishers.

Mountain Training Presentation

It has been a busy start to the year beginning with a book review and a presentation of a joint research findings report with Dr Adele Doran, Sheffield Hallam University, for Mountain Training UK.

Our report condenses two PhD research projects that explore the experiences of both professional and recreational female mountaineers.

Book Review – Tourism & Embodiment

Fantastic to review Catherine Palmer & Hazel Andrews new edited collection a great read and incredibly timely in these turbulent times. Here is a link to the new book

Tourism & Embodiment
by Catherine Palmer and Hazel Andrews, Abingdon, Routledge, 2020, 225 pp., £120 (Hardback), ISBN 978-1-138-57355-0 (hbk); £40.49 (e-book), ISBN 978-0-203-70153-9 (ebk)

Review: Dr Jenny Hall

Catherine Palmer & Hazel Andrews draw on cutting edge research to inspire readers to think through the impact embodied experiences have in forming touristic experiences and destinations. Rich case studies are illuminated through a range of experimental multidisciplinary ethnographies that centre on ‘interpreting and representing sensory knowing’ (Pink, 2009). The book makes an important contribution to tourism anthropology by broadening our understanding of how the tourist body experiences, shapes and is constructed through embodied and sensuous experiences. By encompassing a wide milieu of perspectives the volume explores how gendered, queer, racial and disabled identities are expressed through a range of power geometries. Questioning the scope of the tourist body brings into view host communities, objects and technologies as well as human-animal relations to broaden the spaces and places of embodied touristic experiences.

This volume explores embodied tourism scholarship through several under-researched themes, firstly it challenges notions of difference in tourist destinations. It does so, by problematising socio-cultural norms that shape how tourists and hosts communities are expected to behave. Here the notion of ‘othering’ as a term that Powell & Menendian, (n.d.) refer to as a ‘clarifying frame that reveals a set of common processes and conditions that propagate group-based inequality and marginality’ (ibid (n.d.)) is exemplified by the academic insights presented in this book. For example, Portales & Nogués-Pedregal’s (Chapter 5) research shows how disabled bodies carry the stigma of illness that does not match perceived dominant notions of holiday destinations as a place of paradise. Moreover, they demonstrate that embodied research can open up new ways to understand how we should approach cognitive and sensory diversity in developing our understanding of accessible tourism. Difference or otherness is echoed in Anna de Jong and Bradley Rinks chapters’ that explore how the queering of bodies can create exclusive spaces that both challenge and reinforce stereotypes. Difference is also extended beyond human dimensions to encompass human-animal relations in Sally Ann Ness (Chapter 3) insightful chapter, which explores the agency of bears in tourist destinations and how we might move from human-centred or anthroprocentric to a broader more animal-aware or zoocentric theory of tourism. Thus, Ness opens a moral debate on transspecies encounters and meaning-making in tourist destinations.

Secondly, a theme centres on how our interactions with objects and physical places create and recreate destinations on the move by exploring how mobile bodies co-constitute sites of remembrance, technology, yoga, with children or carrying heavy backpacks over challenging terrain producing autobiographical sedimentations in the body. Howard & Dupers (Chapter 14) expand the spatiotemporal notion of being ‘home or away’ through the use of technology demonstrating how we can be at once on holiday and at the same time at home expanding the boundaries of what it is to be on holiday. Such experiences as Palmer and Andrews (Chapter 1) assert gather as a bodily history of travel and knowledge through practices of thinking, movement and sensing. Embodied experiences through sensing are historicised within the body through which it learns and remembers how to behave (Bourdieu, 1977). As such, tourist destinations are relational and in motion where places accompany travellers in embodied forms of memory, digital interaction and kinaesthetic knowledge.

Thus, this book investigates how tourists move in and construct shared cultural worlds through participatory and sense-making processes that are transformative of both themselves and the host communities and spaces they interact with. A range of theoretical explorations from affective, phenomenological through actor-network theory traces the irreducible nature of the interdependence between individual and collective processes and practices of embodied minds. These theoretical explorations provide openings for designing experimental methodologies and ethnographies that provide practical methods for gathering and interpreting embodied empirical data. Methodologically this book makes a nod to the work of anthropologists such as Pink (2009) and Ingold (2010) by taking a holistic approach that explores the senses as interconnected, interrelated and multisensory. For example, Kuijpers (Chapter 11) describes the process of ‘co-performative witnessing’ that goes beyond cognitive experiences, where she experienced the physical stresses and pain inflicted on the body through the production of ‘slow food’ in Turkey. This led to insights on how the romanticised image of slow food has changed the bodies of Turkish women who endeavour to meet the increasing demand for ‘slow food’. In contrast, Rink (Chapter 4) explores the historical touristic mapping of city spaces through the lens of the Pink Map produced for Cape Town, South Africa. Using discourse analysis he reveals how a stereotyped sexualised queer body embodied through a series of texts, symbols and images become a site of consumption.

Thoughtfully weaving a breadth of theory with rich case studies and academic concerns with embodiment, Tourism and Embodiment offers a holistic framing for academics and students to critically think through the body in tourism anthropology and related social sciences. The book focuses on the complex ways in which the touristic body gathers together the social, physical and cultural and transforms them into destinations. It provides a rare and sustained insight into embodiment in terms of difference and the mobile subject and makes an important call to scholars to extend the field.

Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ingold, T. (2010). The perception of the environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling and skills (New Preface ed.). London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
Pink, S. (2009). Doing sensory ethnography. London: SAGE.

Powell, A. J., & Menendian, S. (n.d.) The problem of othering: Towards inclusiveness and belonging. Othering & belonging, expanding the circle of human concern. Othering & Belonging Institute, UC Berkeley [Internet] Retrieved from

RGS-IBG 2019 Conference

This year the conference proved to be very busy, chairing three sessions and also the Geographies of Leisure and Tourism Research Group AGM.

Thursday I co-chaired and presented in the Geographies of Inequality and Hope: Towards Sustainable Tourism Futures, I which I presented a paper with Dr Brendan Paddison. My copy for this paper is below.

This was followed by chairing the Tourism Geographies session and the GLTRG AGM along with attending the GLTRG social event at the Bunch of Grapes.

Friday I co-chaired a session with Dr Maggie Miller

Redesigning the room: Troubling geographies of adventure tourism

This session included contributions from an interdisciplinary international field including New Zealand, Mexico, Spain, Malaysia and UK.

Governance and sustainable engagement: Building equality within public and private spaces

In my paper I aimed to provide an analysis of the gendered nature of governance structures in UK mountaineering and the impact this has on female mountain leaders as stakeholders. I did so by applying the theories of Jacques Derrida to consider inequality in mountaineering destinations.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attack, Derrida used the biological analogy of the immune system to describe how communities exist and become autoimmunitary. The premise of his argument was that biologically the immune system acts to protect the body, creating immunity from foreign bodies and aliens; for which, in the same way, the rules governing mountaineering are highly effective by establishing exclusivity through the processes of achieving legitimacy. In this context, ‘the immune system is riddled with images … of invaders and defenders, hosts and parasites, natives and aliens and of borders and identities that must be maintained’ and governed. Coining the term the ‘terrorist cell’ he painted a terrifying picture of how communities produce autoimmune reactions and turn in on themselves when blanket rules are applied and difference is suppressed.

The structures that govern mountaineering tourism were founded upon the establishment of Victorian middle-class gentleman’s clubs in the mid-1850s. These clubs were and still are responsible for the codifying and classifying mountains providing the structure that governs how mountains are performed, produced and reproduced as destinations. Historically mountaineering has been founded on who makes the first ascent of a route or summit, of which few are women. All new routes are then described in official guidebooks produced by clubs. The codification of mountaineering, as a male-dominated activity, has changed little since the conjoining of adventure-ness to questions of modernity and manliness established during the Victorian period as a leisure and nation-building sport.

Further popularised by the pioneering exploits of adventurers like Hillary and Tensing Norgay who made the first ascent of Everest in 1953. Such highly publicised nation-building events acted as a catalyst for the growth of a booming adventure tourism industry. Fast forward to 22 May 2019 when more than 200 mountaineers ascended Mount Everest, of which only twelve were women.

So feminine spatial practices in mountaineering are constructed through codes fixed by class, gender and race established through masculinised body politics. Transgressing the rules of climbing mountains is socially contentious affecting what, how, and who can make a legitimate claim to be a mountaineer.

In 1944 the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) was formed in an attempt to address the exclusivity of the Club system. Yet this model was fundamentally flawed in its aim, as it was founded, upon the club network. As a non-governmental public body, the BMC chiefly manages access to and participation in mountaineering and thus collaborates with National Parks and Local Authorities to help manage mountain spaces and places. The model illustrates how mountaineering is fundamentally underpinned by the club system.

Female representation in both clubs and public organisations like the BMC have, is poor, with posts within the BMC being traditionally filled by members from the older established clubs. Since the admission of women to the Alpine Club in 1975, there has only been one female president and the BMC appointed its first female president in 2017. Illustrated by a systematic survey of the 32 climbing guidebooks I own, covering the major mountain areas in the UK, only one has received editorial contributions from a woman. Topographically and geographically femininity is virtually absent in the classification of mountain spaces and places as tourist destinations.

Women have attempted to address this imbalance through establishing female-only clubs, mountaineering expeditions and training programmes. However, by replicating the existing club system, my research has shown, that women have reinforced the interests of the dominant norm, through replicating exclusivity that reproduces marginalisation. In fact, early 20th-century female climbing clubs established a code of modest silence in an attempt to preserve space, which continues to be reinforced today illustrated by an article by Schirrmacher in the British Mountaineering Council’s magazine describing how promoting one’s achievements … ‘is just not what British Women do’ (Schirrmacher, 2008) rendering women virtually invisible.

Female mountaineers oscillate between the states of defender and alien within mountaineering communities, by under-promoting their achievements, they reinforce their difference and perceptions of being an outsider within.

In contrast, women have attempted to resist such silencing effects by producing alternative mountaineering spaces through the establishment of codes such as climbing manless. In 1959, Claude Kogan, pioneered the first all-female Himalayan expedition to make the first ascent (male or female) of the world’s sixth-highest peak, Cho Oyu. The expedition was politically charged because women not only wanted to prove they could undertake such projects unassisted but were also demanding public recognition for their achievements. Unwittingly, Kogan’s purist approach to manless mountaineering had established a new standard governing legitimacy of female-only high altitude ascents, which replicated the dominant model of governance. The production of such female codes have had serious consequences for female mountaineers who followed. Wanda Rutkiewicz and Alison Chadwick first ascent of Gasherbrum III, in 1975, was unfairly branded illegitimate because they had been followed to the summit by a male party. In contrast, such accusations did and do not affect male legitimacy if female peers are connected to a male first ascent. A clear illustration of an autoimmune reaction within the mountaineering community.

My research has revealed this legacy pervades where I found that professional female UK mountaineers had a propensity to reject what they saw to be the ‘women’s movement’ because they felt it could mark them out as troublemakers and reduce their space to be considered legitimate mountaineers, professionally, socially and economically. This self-masculinising and self-silencing continues to reduce women’s visibility and therefore has an impact on the number of women assuming leadership roles. Today only 37 women are professionally qualified to lead mountaineering routes in the UK and 6 Internationally. Mountain Training recognizes the need for rebalancing gender inequalities but have yet to produce a strategy.

So what are the solutions and does Derrida offers hope?

The solution Derrida offers is based on specificity, collaboration and learning systems as a way to resolve differences within a community. Although the autoimmunitary analogy used by Derrida has dark implications it also demonstrates how bodies such as communities are vital, ever-changing forces with the absolute potential for change. If, as Derrida suggests, we work to detect the processes of learning and apply them through practice, perhaps difference can be integrated and inequalities can be reduced. When difference becomes a point of learning the fundamental meaning of hero/heroine – the central tenet of mountaineering – can effectively be challenged and evolve.

Key Findings

Examples of learning and adaption were revealed through my research where the use of ‘softer skills’ or more feminised traits, such as giving feedback, unpacking taboo psychological and physiological issues like the menopause and collaborative decision-making are being adopted and in some instances formalised through training.

Concluding Thoughts

Formalising such tools like ‘softer skills’ through training programmes and engagement strategies could facilitate learning and the necessary adaption that diversifies mountaineering opening a doorway to difference.

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