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An Autoethnography of Fitting In: On Spinsterhood, Fatness and Backpacker Tourism

Stanley, Phiona



An Autoethnography of Fitting In: On Spinsterhood, Fatness, and Backpacker Tourism is a feminist narrative about the social rules of obedience and acquiescence to the norm – fatness, heteronormativity, partnering – and about fitting in, or not, within those narratives.

Phiona Stanley explores a period through her twenties and thirties, living and travelling alone, foreign to herself and the countries of her travel in all regards: white, cisgender, sometimes thin, sometimes fat, sometimes partnered. This fascinating volume uses these lived experiences, depicted through first-person narrative storytelling, as a prism through which to understand the subtle, social rules of gendered normative expectations. It draws on contemporary journals, letters, and photos, and features process-oriented sections that focus on the methodological possibilities these offer, and on questions of verisimilitude and subjectivity. Set in the context of transnational work in Qatar, China, and elsewhere, and “road status” as negotiated and performed among long-term backpacker tourists. This book serves as an exemplar of how autoethnography can illuminate socio-cultural normativities and their effects – which are rarely explicit, but which nevertheless have great potential to harm – while problematizing and rethinking the meanings and semantic boundaries of weight, queerness and (hetero)normativity.

Framed through reflexive autoethnography, with a strong focus on ethics and feminist theories, this book will appeal to students and researchers in autoethnography, qualitative methods, and gender and women's studies.


Stanley, P. (2021). An Autoethnography of Fitting In: On Spinsterhood, Fatness and Backpacker Tourism. London & New York: Routledge.

Book Type Monograph
Acceptance Date May 14, 2021
Online Publication Date Nov 25, 2021
Publication Date Nov 26, 2021
Deposit Date May 18, 2021
Publisher Routledge
Series Title Writing Lives
ISBN 9781032070964
Public URL
Publisher URL