Outdoors assemblages, Scottish Highland bothies, and gendered fatness in nature: You’ll never walk alone SUPPORTING VIDEOS

Published: 8 December 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/6565yvd2ps.1
Phiona Stanley


This critically autoethnographic paper draws on experience-near narratives and multimedia Instagram/Facebook texts to examine the complex co-production of fat, female, middle-aged ‘aloneness’ in culturally specific ‘nature’ spaces. The setting is hiking and bothying in the Scottish Highlands where, even while going “alone” in a practical sense —mitigating risk; carrying everything required for survival— it is impossible to extract oneself from relations of exteriority whose components are irreducible to functionality. This includes the materiality of affect, wherein growing awareness of/and (non-)representation mark the experience of hiking ‘alone’. Further, within assemblages of putative ‘aloneness’ there are other people, particularly straight-sized hikers and men-in-the-outdoors: those on the internet with their comments, in bothies with their physicality, and on trails with their questions. Through ‘nature’ assemblages, then, fat-female subjectivity is paradoxically co-produced through both appropriation (i.e. agentically, such as through activism and ‘counter-hiking’) and attribution (i.e. against the Derridean notion of the constitutive outside). There also is the non-human within the assemblage through which embodied, gendered, outdoors subjectivities are co-constructed: the deer ticks, the peat bogs, the sheep-wrecked land and its evolving legal status, historied bothies, and a world of contested meanings. While the focus of this paper is fat women specifically, as shown, when walking ‘alone’, we are all, necessarily, parts of broader assemblages comprising human and nonhuman agency, meaning, and affect. This is to say that solo subjectivity is a paradoxical co-production: you never really do walk alone.



Edinburgh Napier University


Outdoor Environment, United States of America, Walking, National Park, Autoethnography, Scotland