Dr Diana Beljaars

Dr Diana Beljaars

ESRC Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Geography
Academic Office - 210
Second Floor
Wallace Building
Singleton Campus

About

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Human Geography and am interested in questions on the relations between the body and the environment as mediated through experience. I approach such questions by considering the different rationalities at work in performance and extend those to the sociomaterial worlds in which it takes place. I particular, I examine them through the concept of compulsivity, which is a pathologised form of action that cannot be explained entirely by psychological or biological processes.

I therefore work with people with Tourette syndrome, who perform compulsive acts compelled by a sensory urge. In June 2020, I was awarded the first Hans Eijsackers Award from the Dutch Tourette's Association that celebrates and encourages patient emancipatory research.

My work situates on the intersections of cultural, health, and disability geography, the medical humanities, continental philosophy, and the biomedical and clinical sciences of Tourette syndrome. Unpicking the ways in which experience is constructed through a postphenomenological lens, it contributes to posthumanist efforts to understand human action as ecologically constituted. Employing qualitative methodologies, and working with mobile eye-tracking, my work introduces critical social scientific approaches to the study of Tourette syndrome.

I am currently working on my monograph Compulsive Body Spaces (Routledge, 2021)

In addition, I am externally advising and collaborating with Antwerp University doctoral candidate Jo Bervoets, who will soon start a 'virtual visiting scholarship' with me. 

In the department I have taught urban, political, and health geography (UG) and qualitative social scientific research methods (PG)

Areas Of Expertise

  • Cultural & Urban, Disability & Health geography
  • Posthumanism & Post-phenomenology
  • Performativity, practices & embodiment
  • Compulsion, Mental Health & Tourette Syndrome
  • Interdisciplinarity & knowledge construction in the life sciences
  • Mobile eye-tracking

Career Highlights

Research

I am a cultural, health, and disability geographer and bring in the medical humanities, continental philosophy, and the neurosciences, psychiatry, and psychology. 

My work focuses on the concept, construction, and lived experience of compulsion and Tourette syndrome, as well as its problematisation, pathologisation, and medicalisation in Western societies. For my analysis I employ qualitative methods, and explore mobile eye-tracking technology as research methodology and urban surveillance technique.

I most notably draw on nonrepresentational theory in cultural geography, in particular to (post)phenomenological and posthumanist approaches to the spatialities of the body, and work most closely with the works of Lingis, Manning, Grosz, Bennett, Deleuze, Guattari, Bergson, and Canguilhem.

Award Highlights
Award ceremony, Houten September 2020 (photo: Hedy Uijting)

Winner 2020 Hans Eijsackers Award, Dutch Tourette's Association. This prize highlights and encourages patient emancipation in Tourette syndrome research.

Winner 2018 Todd Reynolds Student Competition, Disability Specialty Group, American Association of Geographers

 

Photo: ceremony of the award of the certificate and bronze scupture, Houten, September 2020 (by Hedy Uijting)

Collaborations

Member of the informal AAG 'Diversity' Chairs group representing the Disability Specialty Group, with the Chairs of the Black Geographies, Latinx Geographies, Indigenous Peoples', and the Queer and Trans Geographies Specialty Groups, 2020-now

AAG Covid-19 Rapid Response subcommittee 'Members', May-June 2020

External Advisor for PhD candidate Jo Bervoets, Department of Philosophy, Antwerp University on his project “Tourette Syndrome and Dynamic Moral Responsibility: a healthier look at Tourette’s?” funded as part of the ERC project ‘NeuroEpigenEthics’, 2018-now

Research collaborations with:
- Jo Bervoets (Antwerp University)
- Hanne de Jaegher (University of the Basque Country)
- Rich Gorman (University of Sussex)
- Phil Emmerson (RGS)
- Sandy Wong (Florida State University)
- Charles Drozynski (University of the West of England)