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Re-Imaging the 'Kiwi Bloke': Low Places and Anxious Spaces in Aotearoa New Zealand

This thesis extends mental health geographies by examining how and in what ways emotions are performed and negotiated in place by men who experience anxiety and depression. The research seeks to explain men’s responses to, and lived experiences of, contemporary mental health campaigns and discourses in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research has two main questions. First, how do men respond to gendered mental health discourses in New Zealand media? Second, how do men, with anxiety and depression, emotionally experience and negotiate different spaces? The thesis aims to promote greater awareness of men’s mental health in Aotearoa New Zealand, and broaden critical geographical literature, by offering a new geography of hope. New Zealand masculinity has been historically shaped alongside working-class culture, rugby union and ‘hard man’ stereotypes. These discourses marginalise men who experience emotional and mental ill-health. The research seeks to re-image the ‘kiwi bloke’ and make space for alternative health stories to be heard. The research is framed within health geography literature and feminist poststructuralist theories. I maintain that mental and emotional ill-health are affected through biopsychosocial relations and a myriad of spaces and places. I conducted critical discourse analysis on contemporary mental health campaigns. Nine men, who identify with or live in New Zealand, participated in semi-structured interviews, solicited diaries and follow-up questionnaires. The methodology is theoretically and empirically innovative, and seeks to find more appropriate interfaces for conducting critical gender and mental health research. My findings are organised around two spatial scales: the discursive space of mental health promotion and hegemonic New Zealand masculinity; and, the everyday emotional spatialities of men who experience anxiety and depression. I maintain that there is a ‘new national imaginary’ around men’s mental health promotion which influences a more intimate geography of hope. I assert social spaces prescribe men’s bodies with performances of hegemonic masculinity and that spatial power relations position men as object to marginalization in ‘peopled places’. I discuss how the men find ways to create meaningful healthy spaces in order to avoid the pressure felt in social spaces. Some men find wellbeing through embodying their home spaces, while others seek attachment to place, outside of their residential dwellings. Ultimately, this thesis provides a geography of hope by illustrating how some men elicit power, domination and control and resist mental illness stigma through their embodied spaces.
Type of thesis
Keppel, J. J. (2012). Re-Imaging the ‘Kiwi Bloke’: Low Places and Anxious Spaces in Aotearoa New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7564
University of Waikato
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