“Self-Care Is Being Attentive to Yourself”: Using Assemblages to Examine Discursive-Material Practices of Self-Care among Filipino University Students

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Researchers have observed a rise in mental health issues among university students over the course of the pandemic, in part due to the closure of schools and public spaces for wellness. Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore how students creatively reassemble their self-care practices through different objects and spaces within their homes to care for their mental health.


Photo-elicitation interviews were conducted with ten (10) female university students from the Philippines. Photographs and interview transcripts were analysed through map-making practices and an iterative process of crafting assemblages and their cofunctionings.


The work-home assemblage was identified as the site of self-care, delineated by boundary-making and place-making practices and the creation of time spaces. The two major cofunctionings of the work-home assemblage were (a) caring for the self as fostering different relationalities with the self, and (b) caring for the self as copresencing with human and nonhuman others.


Findings demonstrate the importance of material and spatial relationalities in facilitating caring relational encounters with the self. Theoretical and practical implications include attuning to the existing material and spatial resources in one’s environment and integrating them into one’s practices of caring for the self.