Healing Spaces, eating disorders and ‘the margin’

Authors: Isabel Urrutia*, University of Toronto
Topics: Field Methods, Immigration/Transnationalism, Women
Keywords: Latinx geographies, mental health, food, bodies, embodiment, decolonizing methodologies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Edgewood AB, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Food and eating are intimately tied to how we are situated in the world, and feed our bodies and identities ¬– materially, historically, and culturally. My research asks: when the relationship between food and our bodies, and between eating and our identity, are fragmented through eating disorders (EDs) or troubled eating practices, how we can heal these relationships through building community, telling our stories, and building networks of support?

Research on the experience of EDs in people who are assumed to be marginally situated within ‘Western’ contexts has tended to reinscribe marginality by framing these experiences in terms of a presumed ‘dominant’ culture into which one ‘assimilates’. My project studies a different approach to studying EDs that instead centers the voices and experiences of Latinx queer/racialized/immigrant people through a ground-up research process of collective knowledge construction and healing.

This paper outlines preliminary findings from my fieldwork on healing spaces. I outline activist work that raises awareness about EDs in latinx communities or otherwise marginalized communities through the lens of decolonization, healing historical trauma, and complicating fat activism. I talk about the process of building connections with these activists, as well as of building networks of support through a community organization in Toronto. I discuss the challenges and learning resulting from trying to carry out such a project within an academic setting.

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