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 Gemma Lucas

Gemma Lucas


 Amory C406


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



My research is situated within geographies of the body, feminist geographies, creative methodologies and medical humanities. The primary focus of my research is developing embodied, creative methods for shame research.

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 have therefore developed an innovative creative and embodied methodology that involves working with participants one-to-one or in small groups using a variety of practices including gentle, accessible introspective movement practices (based on yoga and DMT) 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). I am in the process of further developing and co-facilitating these workshops with Dr Chloe Asker. 

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.

Last year I spent three months running and evaluating Moving Shame workshops in partnership with Duke University medical school in collaboration with colleagues on the Wellcome Trust Shame and Medicine project.

My 'Moving Shame' workshops open novel analytic lines for understanding shame and its health impacts outside of normative, neoliberal and medico-scientific discourses. 

I also use movement and embodied pedagogies in my teaching on the Geographies of the Body module, and my transdisciplinary medical humanities teaching on the BA Liberal Arts 'Being Human' module and in the medical school at Exeter.

I am in the process of developing my embodied pedagogies through the co-creation of an exciting international transdisciplinary 'Global Classrooms' PGT programme in collaboration with colleages at Exeter's Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, and colleagues at Duke University and the University of North Carolina. This will pilot in the 24/25 academic year.

Artistic collaborations 

I am also interested in the intersections between art and academia, and have worked collaboratively with artists on various funded projects including a collaborative project to develop Moving Shame with yoga teachers, psychotherapists and artists.

Also, as part of a work placement with Arts and Culture Exeter  I collaborated with two artists 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. 


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 continuing engaging with yoga teachers, artists and therapists to collaboratively co-develop 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, prior to my PhD in Human Geography I obtained 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 an MRes in Critical Human Geographies at the University of Exeter.

Studying for these degrees I have had the opportunity to study, live and work both transnationally and transdisciplinarily which I am certain has contributed to my tendency towards creative thinking and interest in collaborative working.

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, queer methods, creative methodologies, nonrepresentatinal 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.

Last summer I spent 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.

I am part of a transdisciplinary international Global Classrooms project in collaboration with Dr Michael Flexer and other colleagues at WCCEH. We are working with Dr Will Bynum at Duke University Medical School and Dr Kym Weed at University of North Carolina to develop an exciting new transnational PGT programme. This will pilot in 2024.


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

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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.

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

I also facilitate 'Moving Shame' workshops. I often run these in collaboration with Dr Chloe Asker. I/we have run these workshops so far with groups of therapists, yoga teachers, medical students and practitioners, for mental health festivals, as part of academic research projects and for charities which support LGBTQ+ communities.

Research projects

Public engagement and examples of previous workshops:

Moving Shame, Duke School of Medicine, North Carolina, USA

Moving Shame, Queer Circle, London, UK

Moving Shame, Bloom Festival, Exeter, UK

Shame and Medicine, Moving Shame, Exeter, UK

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 (

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Journal articles

Dolezal L, Lucas G (2022). Differential Experiences of Social Distancing: Considering Alienated Embodied Communication and Racism. Puncta: Journal of Critical Phenomenology, Vol.5, 97-105. Abstract.


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

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  • 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



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Thursdays 12.30 - 13.30

Amory C406

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