The broad themes of my research include:
• The socio-political dimensions of women’s health and wellbeing;
• How technology mobilises woman’s relationship with her body, with a focus on Instagram, filters, self-tracking and wearable technologies, plastic and cosmetic surgery;
• Self-care and wellness cultures;
• Beauty politics, gendered normalisation, and technologies of the self;
• Gender and feminism.
I am currently leading an interdisciplinary women's health project, entitled, 'Women Doing Well', awarded through the Vice-Chancellor's Gender Equality Grant at Western Sydney University. The project seeks to expand understandings of women's health, wellness, and the body. More information available here: https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/ics/news_and_media/news/2019/helen_barcham_awarded_vice-chancellors_gender_equality_fund.
My PhD is a sociology/social psychology exploration of how therapy culture – which purports to benevolently support women’s self-making and ‘empowerment’ – interpellates women’s subjectivities, and thus, their ontological being-in-the-world. Drawing on cultural criticism and empirical exchanges with ‘everyday’ women, my research sheds light on the deep grips of therapy culture on women, across both social and psychic domains. I argue that therapy culture is encroaching more deeply into women's lives and dictating their self-making practices, I call for a rethinking of therapy culture’s enabling and ancillary possibilities. I argue that while women are subjected to blueprints of gendered normalisation around the ‘healthy’ and ‘happy’ cultural ideal, they are at the same time, paradoxically, activated and accorded space to take a role in their own cultural production. My research, then, opens up possibilities for understanding how the making of oneself as an intelligible subject might be practiced today, in and against wider apparatuses of power and dominance.
2019: Vice-Chancellor’s Gender Equality Grant, Western Sydney University
2013-2017: Australian Postgraduate Award, Macquarie University
2012: Dean Merit’s List, University of Western Sydney
2019-: Researcher, Digital Humanities Research Group
2018-: Editorial Assistant, Feminist Encounters: A Journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics
2018-: Academic, Speaker in Schools Mentorship Program, Western Sydney University
2017-: Co-Editor, The Occasional Papers, Institute for Culture and Society
2017-: Member, The Australian Sociological Association
2017-: Member, The Australasian Research Management Society