Ageing in the Great Outdoors: A critical auto-ethnography of hillwalking

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Invited talk


Ageing is still largely associated with decline, especially in sport and physical activity. New narratives and practices are beginning to emerge which could challenge the decline narrative. However these are largely driven by experts and they are informed by a public health narrative which gives primacy to behaviour change, the scapegoating of the long lived for the crisis in health care provision and proselytises the need to engage in active lives. These I would argue represent a new politics of living which is underpinned by a neoliberal agenda. I have been searching for forms of agency which offer opportunities for meaningful resistance to neoliberalism. Most physical activity interventions occlude the political and discursive constraints which provide the conditions in which people live their lives. By the same token, at the individual level, the complexities, vagaries of living life, making decision and, within the sport and physical activity context, of building a sporting/physical activity career, are ignored and people's reluctance to engage in active leisure is constructed almost exclusively as a motivation deficit. To address this I decided to start from my own experience and engage in what I would call critical auto-ethnography. I use my own experience as a starting point, to identify the complex interplay of personal, discursive, historical, cultural and social processes (otherwise understood as the weight of history) which have shaped my ability to call myself a woman mountaineer. In doing so, I am hoping to discern the potential for alternate and richer understandings of how we become active and most importantly how we can maintain this over time and into the later years.
Period29 Oct 2015
Held atAbertay University, United Kingdom


  • Hillwalking
  • gender