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 Gemma Lucas

Gemma Lucas


 Amory C419


Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK

 Office hours:

Office hours – book here

Amory C419

Mondays 12.00 - 13.00

Thursdays 12.30 – 13.30




My research is situated within geographies of the body, feminist geographies, creative methodologies and medical humanities. The primary focus of my PhD is to find novel ways to research shame.

Researching emotions and feelings such as shame presents epistemological and methodological challenges. Conventional approaches to research rely heavily on discursive means of capturing and conveying experience which have limited utility when seeking to understand difficult, sensitive emotions, and feeling experiences that are ‘beyond words’.

I am therefore developing an innovative creative and embodied methodology that involves working with participants one-to-one or in small groups using a variety of practices including yoga with art activities (such as collaging and body mapping). I call these workshops 'Moving Shame' workshops and have run them with a wide variety of intersectionally diverse groups including yoga teachers and therapists, medical students and practitioners (with a focus on shame in medical contexts), and for charities including Queer Circle (with a focus on LGBTQ+ experience and shame). 

My background is in (interdisciplinary) gender studies, and I am particularly interested in how shame (and lived experience/embodiment more generally) is rooted in intersecting systemic oppressions. My 'Moving Shame' workshops open novel analytic lines for understanding shame and its health impacts outside of normative, neoliberal and medico-scientific discourses. 

Artistic collaborations 

I am also interested in the intersections between art and academia, and have been working collaboratively with artists on various projects during my PhD so far including a collaborative project with a yoga teacher/counsellor (Catherine Forrester), an illustrator (Elizabeth Fortnum) and a writer/psychotherapist/creative consultant (Dr Meg-John Barker) through which we developed the first iteration of 'Moving Shame'  (partially funded by a WCCEH ERA award and Wellcome Shame & Medicine Project) which took the form of a two day workshop investigating the relationship between yoga, gender and body shame through yoga practice and the co-production of an illustrated zine. Also, as part of a work placement with Arts and Culture Exeter  I collaborated with two artists (Paper florist Bee Watson and graffiti artist Cinna Solar) on a project exploring how art and creative practice can impact the negative mental health effects of racial discrimination through an Artists Residency and a series of workshops. 



I combine ethnography with innovative, creative and embodied research methods in  my PhD. 

Following on from the success of the original ‘Moving Shame’ workshop, I applied for and was granted a WCCEH ERA fund which allowed me to collaborate with a team of yoga teachers, artists and therapists to continue developing Moving Shame. I also trained as a yoga teacher and began teaching yoga outside of the academy. As a result of this development work I now have a range of sessions I can use with different audiences, depending on the size of the group and the length of time we have together.

By developing this workshop method collaboratively with a team of partners whose lived experience and relevant professional expertise combined with my academic knowledge I have ensured that Moving Shame is  accessible and appropriate for researching shame with an intersectionally diverse range of participants.  


My academic interests developed through many years of interdisciplinary study, including a BA in English Language and Literature at King’s College London, a dual-award Erasmus Mundus Masters of Excellence in Gender Studies at the Universities of Oviedo (Spain) and Hull (UK) and most recently, an MRes in Critical Human Geographies at the University of Exeter.

For my MA in Gender Studies I undertook an ethnographic research project from which I wrote a dissertation that explored how yoga spaces and practices provide potential openings for the development of less shame-driven attitudes to the body, but also how this potentiality is militated against by a broader embedding within a neoliberal culture in which a critical, disciplining and inward-looking mode of self-evaluation predominates.

Studying for these degrees I have had the opportunity to study, live and work both transnationally and trans-disciplinarily which I am certain has contributed to my tendency towards creative thinking and methods.

I am also a qualified and practicing yoga teacher (please contact me for information).

Broad Research Specialisms

My broad interests and research specialisms include shame, movement, yoga, embodiment, gender, creative methodologies.

Within geography I am situated broadly within cultural geography and I contribute in particular to geographies of the body and feminist geographies.

I am interested in feminist, qualitative, ethnographic, creative and embodied methodologies and exploring the intersections between academic and artistic/creative practice.


My PhD is supervised by Dr Jennifer Lea, Professor Luna Dolezal and Professor John Wylie.


I am funded by the SWDTP / ESRC.

I am member of the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health and I am a Collaborator on the Wellcome Shame and Medicine Project.

This summer (2023) I will spend three months as a visiting scholar at the University of Duke's medical school working in collaboration with Dr Will Bynum to develop my Moving Shame workshops.


2014: (First Class Hons) BA English Language and Literature, King’s College London

2017: (Distinction/Distinction) Erasmus Mundus Masters of Excellence in Gender Studies, Dual Award at University of Hull / University of Oviedo

2020: (Distinction) MRes in Critical Human Geographies, University of Exeter.


Research group links


Research interests

My broad interests and research specialisms include shame, body shame, yoga, gender, creative and embodied methodologies.

Within geography I am situated broadly within cultural geography and I contribute in particular to geographies of the body and feminist geographies.

I am also interested in feminist, qualitative, ethnographic, embodied and creative methodologies and exploring the intersections between academic and artistic/creative practice.

In my PhD research, I use ethnographic and creative, embodied methodologies to explore how yoga and arts practices can help facilitate conversations about shame.

I also facilitate 'Moving Shame' workshops. I have run these workshops so far with groups of therapists, yoga teachers, medical students and practitioners and for charities which support LGBTQ+ communities.

Research projects

Upcoming workshops: 

Queer Circle, Moving Shame:

Shame and Medicine, Moving Shame:

Research networks

My PhD is funded by the South West Doctoral Training (SWDTP) branch of the ESRC.

My supervisors are: Dr Jennifer Lea, Professor John Wylie and Professor Luna Dolezal.

I am also a member of the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health ( and a collaborator on the Wellcome Trust Shame and Medicine Project (


Key publications | Publications by category | Publications by year

Publications by category


Asker C, Lucas G, Lea J (2021). Non-representational Approaches to COVID-19. In  (Ed) COVID-19 and Similar Futures, 85-90.

Publications by year


Asker C, Lucas G, Lea J (2021). Non-representational Approaches to COVID-19. In  (Ed) COVID-19 and Similar Futures, 85-90.

Gemma_Lucas Details from cache as at 2023-06-10 09:11:24

Refresh publications


  • GEOM131 - Geographies of Life
  • GEO1309 - Study Skills in Human Geography
  • GEO2329 - Geographies of Consumption
  • GEO3101 - Gender and Geography
  • GEOM105A - Research Methods and Design in Human Geography



Supervision / Group

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