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Unpacking stored and storied knowledge: Elicited biographies of activism in mental health

Milligan, Christine; Kearns, Robin; Kyle, Richard G


Christine Milligan

Robin Kearns

Richard G Kyle


In this paper we consider the potential of autobiographical narratives for accessing ‘storied knowledge’ in research around geographies of health voluntarism. We firstly consider what is meant by elicited autobiography and how the narrative approach has been used in research more broadly. Drawing on fieldwork undertaken in Manchester, UK and Auckland, New Zealand we then demonstrate how this approach has helped us to map out and unpack the career journeys of mental health activists working within and across the voluntary and statutory sectors. Through our autobiographical narratives we illustrate how this approach has enabled us to elicit important insights into the triggers and trajectories underpinning mental health activism and how events and moments in time have provided critical junctures in these trajectories. We consider places as sites of significance in activist career paths; and as central to the researcher-participant gestalt within which the autobiography is elicited and recounted. The autobiographical process, we suggest, offers reflective insights into mental health activism that might not otherwise be gained using more conventional methodologies.


Milligan, C., Kearns, R., & Kyle, R. G. (2011). Unpacking stored and storied knowledge: Elicited biographies of activism in mental health. Health and Place, 17, 7-16.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011
Deposit Date Jan 21, 2015
Print ISSN 1353-8292
Electronic ISSN 1873-2054
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Pages 7-16
Keywords Mental Health; Activism; Biography; Narrative; Career Trajectories; Manchester; Auckland
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