Bio-spheres of Risk-Aversion Gesler (1992) developed the concept of ‘therapeutic landscapes’ to capture the subjectivity of place and how it relates to recovering from illness or injury. For Gesler (1992: 473), ‘therapeutic landscape becomes a geographic metaphor for aiding in the understanding of how the healing process works itself out in places’. An everyday example would be when people feel a bit ill and explain, or get told, that all they need is a bit of fresh air. This logic views outside spaces as more therapeutically potent than inside spaces. The term describes the feelings of comfort or discomfort people experience in different surroundings and how this can impact their recovery from illness or injury. As people are increasingly encouraged to live a ‘healthy lifestyle’ and thus obliged to show they are taking responsibility for their health, places where they can go to comply with the health advice of experts can thus be understood as therapeutic landscapes in two main ways: • Firstly, if someone is considered to be unhealthy, e.g. having a BMI of 25 or above, then the local gym or swimming pool may be perceived as therapeutic landscapes in so much as they are places where a process of ‘healing’ can occur, i.e., achieving good health (e.g. losing weight). • Secondly, those who are considered healthy are likely to attribute their good health, at least in part, to their own actions whilst attending these places. In this sense, these places may be more accurately described as ‘pre-therapeutic landscapes’ as they are not thought of as places of ‘healing’ but rather as places of health maintenance and enhancement, or perhaps more accurately for this metaphor, risk-aversion and ill-health avoidance. Thus, I argue that healthified spaces (places designed to promote ‘healthy living’) that offer people (pre-)therapeutic sites where they can ‘do’ health should be conceptualised as ‘bio-spheres of risk-aversion’. Conventionally, biospheres are defined as environments that support life. In contemporary societies, achieving a sense of well-being and perceiving oneself to have a reasonable quality of life can, to some extent, be considered to be reliant upon having access to, and attending, places where risks can be managed through complying with behaviours which are considered to facilitate healthy living. It is clear that such places are not equally accessible to people throughout society. However, for those who can and do access these places they have the potential to be emancipatory in the sense that they facilitate compliance with the behavioural and bodily norms that indicate to themselves and others that they are sensible citizens taking responsibility for their health and exercising agency. In what can be considered a paradox, they are emancipatory because they facilitate the choice to comply. Therefore, it is possible to view area-based health interventions in deprived communities as attempts to create bio-spheres of risk-aversion for the ‘poor’. Reflecting the very nature of (bio)medicalization and neoliberal progress, bio-spheres of risk-aversion remain in a perpetual state of becoming as there is always more that could be incorporated into the pursuit of health maximisation. All health interventions have the potential to exacerbate, reduce or have a neutral effect on health inequalities and transforming the physical environment in this way is no exception. The crucial concern with ‘healthy’ living policies is participation: positive health outcomes only result from participation. Therefore, unless area-based health policies actually change the circumstances of people living in a deprived area in such a way as to make ‘healthy living’ an achievable and desirable possibility for them these policies are liable to exacerbate inequalities rather than reduce them. DEADLINE: 29/1/16 CONTACT OLI: