Rethinking women's experiences of depression and recovery as emplacement: Spatiality, care and gender relations in rural Australia

Simone Fullagar, Wendy O'Brien

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In Australia and other OECD countries women who are recovering
from depression in rural areas find that access to professional care is
fraught with difficulties. Despite the emphasis on the social
determinants shaping mental ill health and recovery, Australian rural
support has been largely defined by biomedical and psy-expertise focused
on correcting biochemistry and cognition through different models of
formal medical care. Addressing the limitations of individualised
biomedical models, this article offers a relational understanding of how
recovery from depression is produced through rural and gendered
emplacement (Pink, 2011). Theorising recovery through the notion of
emplacement shifts attention from an individualised notion of embodied
distress (symptoms, emotions, cognition) towards a social understanding
of the dynamics of human and non-human relations that are afforded by
different care practices (from medical treatment to social support). To
date there has been little critical analysis of how women's distress and
recovery experiences are gendered in relation to both formal and informal
care in rural places. Extending the insights of geographers, social
anthropologists and feminist scholars we analyse the recovery stories of
women living in rural and regional Australia. We focus specifically on
how rural women experienced uncertainty and stigma that emerged through
formal care spaces and impeded their recovery -the gendered dynamics of
em(dis)placement were identified. In contrast, we identify how particular
informal care spaces enabled women's recovery through multiple relations
with human and non-human others. Our research aims to contribute a
critical understanding of how everyday professional care and self-care
practices are intertwined with the complex gendered negotiations of
emplacement and displacement that shape rural mental (ill) health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date30 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Rural
  • women's health
  • Gender
  • place
  • Feminism
  • Depression


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