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Constructing a story to live by: Ethics, emotions and academic practice in the context of climate change

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    Rights statement: © Willis, A. (2012). Constructing a story to live by: Ethics, emotions and academic practice in the context of climate change. Emotion, Space and Society, 5(1), 52-59. 10.1016/j.emospa.2011.03.001

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-59
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


Starting from the concept of the narrative-self, this paper explores the everyday ethics of research and academic practice as seen through the storied-experiences of two women who have chosen their careers through their desire to contribute meaningfully to the resolution of environmental issues. Selves are embedded in language, in relationships, in societies, in places and in ecologies. However, selves are also co-constructed in dialogue between teller and listener or writer and reader. In the intersubjective space opened up through dialogue lies the potential for change at both personal and societal levels. Enacting a narrative ethics of reading and writing that draws on counselling practices, this paper brings my own affective, embodied story into dialogue with the published memoir of Alison Watt. As we both struggle to find stories we can live by within the contexts of specific academic and research communities we begin to challenge the narratives and discourses that dominate our respective fields of field biology and human geography. The emotional and embodied practice of narrative ethics is offered as one possible response to the overemphasis on technical rationality within our society and its institutions. I argue that the development of practical wisdom (phronesis) is essential to addressing issues such as climate change,
which are not simply technical problems but are fundamentally rooted in the human condition.

    Research areas

  • narrative-self, ethics, ENVIRONMENT, academic practice, CARE

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