Carmel is a feminist interdisciplinary researcher and practitioner working at the intersection of arts and health. Her cultural sector career has seen her working across all artforms, in the UK and Australia. She has also helmed her own social enterprise delivering coaching and strategic support to artists and creative organisations.
She brings this extensive experience of public engagement to her academic career, in which she researches selfhood in cancer survivorship, with a particular focus on pleasure and embodiment, using arts-based research methods. Carmel's PhD is funded by the UKRI ESRC through the London Interdisciplinary Social Science DTP.
Thesis title: 'Remaking the self in cancer survivorship: pleasure, creativity and embodiment'
One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Hearing the phrase ‘you have cancer’ is devastating; it causes a temporal rupture, a major disruption of one’s anticipated life trajectory, and a significant threat to the self. This threat is physical: a diagnosis of cancer is predicated on the discovery of its presence in the body. However, the impact extends to all areas of one’s life, manifesting temporally, psychosocially, interpersonally, causing a loss of identity.
Renegotiating one’s sense of self in the face of a cancer diagnosis requires navigating biomedical power structures, gender and corporeal norms, and working with and within hegemonic cancer culture.
Based on the significant role that pleasure and sexuality play in subject formation, and the place of art and creativity in facilitating the remaking of the self, this research will investigate the ways in which people renegotiate their embodied sense of self following a breast cancer diagnosis. Using arts-based research methods, Carmel seeks to explore the place of pleasure and sexuality in this process, and define the implications for practices in, and experiences of, cancer survivorship.