Publication Details

Eriksen, C. (2019). Negotiating adversity with humour: A case study of wildland firefighter women. Political Geography, 68 139-145.


This paper examines humour as an emergent theme within a long-term study of the gendered terrain of wildfire management. It analyses a set of semi-structured interviews that the study utilised to facilitate in-depth conversations with firefighter women about everyday gender relations, politics and practices within the New South Wales National Parks and Wildfire Service, Australia. The narrative analysis unpacks the dual function of humour as an explanatory tool during interviews, and as an everyday practice to negotiate adversity within the patriarchal stronghold of wildland firefighting. The study shows: a) how humour masks widespread occurrences of gender discrimination, and b) that the use of humour to negotiate gendered relations in everyday practices, and to describe embodied gendered identities, makes a difference for firefighter women's experiences of normative workplace culture. The paper concludes that humour enables flexibility and personal disclosure, which opens up strategies for managing, upholding, resisting, and living within and against asymmetric gendered power relations.

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