CFP #AAG2018. ‘Geographies of Sex, Sexuality and Sex Work: Myths, Imaginaries and Realities’. New Orleans, April 10-14 2018

 

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Paul Maginn, Erin Sanders-Mcdonagh and I are pleased to announce the call for papers for this year’s American Association of Geographers Conference in New Orleans in April next year (see more details here: http://www.aag.org/cs/events/event_detail?eventId=1258 ).  Although a geography conference, it is a very interdisciplinary event and we welcome submissions of abstracts from all perspectives on sex, sexuality and sex work.  We have run special sessions on these themes for the last few years at this conference and it is always a really engaging and enjoyable event.  We have also been fortunate in the past to secure some contributory funding for sex workers to attend and present from the conference enrichment fund, and would endeavour to do so again.

Do get in touch if you would like some clarification before submitting something.  The deadline is 16th October to submit an abstract.

 

ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN GEOGRAPHERS CONFERENCE

NEW ORLEANS, 2018

#GEOSEX18 CALL FOR ABSTRACTS/PAPERS

 

Geographies of Sex, Sexuality and Sex Work:

Myths, Imaginaries and Realities

In the past decade questions about sex, sexuality and sex work have come to dominate media, political and social debates. These debates have seen the tectonic plates of ‘conservatism’ and ‘liberalism’ collide and sheer against one another. There is considerable variation in the dynamics of such relations across national and international boundaries. In the predominantly Catholic country of Ireland, for example, a referendum on marriage equality saw the LGBTQ community granted the same rights as heterosexual couples. In Northern Ireland (NI), however, the Protestant-dominated local Assembly has thus far steadfastly refused to pass legislation on marriage equality five times. The failure to pass this legislation has been due largely to opposition from the largest political party in NI –the Democratic Unionist Party – who has effectively vetoed the issue each time it has to a vote. And, in Australia the current Liberal Government has prevaricated on the issue of marriage equality by agreeing to hold a non-binding postal plebiscite on the issue rather than letting the Parliament decide on the issue.

On the matter of sex work, some nations – e.g. Canada, France, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – have recently introduced legislation that criminalises the purchase of commercial sex services in the name of protecting (female) sex workers and victims of human trafficking. This legislation was introduced in these jurisdictions following major campaigning by conservative politicians, religious organisations, NGOs and radical feminist organisations often working together. Relatedly, other state actors have sought to prohibit access to pornography by framing the consumption of adult entertainment as an issue that affects social and mental well-being. For example, participants at the 2016 Republican National Convention in the USA suggested that viewing pornography constituted a ‘public health crisis’. In the UK the government has recently sought to introduce age verification mechanisms and regulations in order to prevent people from viewing particular sexual acts online.

All the while, the consumption of online (heteronormative) pornography continues to grow year-on-year as data from one of the world’s largest free porn websites reveals each year. There is relatively little publicly available data on the consumption of non-heteronormative types of porn, although anecdotal evidence points to significant growth in “feminist-porn and alt-porn”. Camming has also becoming an increasingly popular mode of adult entertainment, with an estimated 20,000 performers online in the US at any given time. Even professional adult performers now engage in cam-work (and other forms of adult entertainment such as stripping and feature dancing) as a means of generating supplementary income due to the de-industrialisation of the porn industry in the wake of free online porn hosting sites. New and improved technologies have therefore created alternative possibilities for sex work landscapes.

Sexual and gender identity have also been the focus of much heated debate, especially in the last 5 years as debates about transgenderism have become more prominent. The increasing visibility/audibility of transgender people and issues related to trans rights have, in some cases, resulted in moral panics about trans people being in public spaces and using public facilities, especially toilets. Ultimately, trans folk have endured stigma and stereotypes because of their gendered/sexual identities and have been subject to discrimination and a denial of their human rights.

Advances in digital technology and the ‘app-ification’ of smart phones have had a profound impact on the socio-spatial dynamics of human sexuality and commericalised forms of sexual services. The emergence of dating websites, online escort agencies and personal ad sites, hook-up apps and web-camming for personal and commercial purposes have enhanced the opportunity for direct and indirect intimate and risqué experiences. Similarly, the rise of virtual reality, smart sex toys and sex robots have raised various questions about the future direction of human, gender and sexual relations.

In light of the highly complex and dynamic sexual landscapes that characterize the 21st century, this special session – #GeoSex18 – calls for papers that offer critical analyses on a range of myths, imaginaries and realities pertaining to sex, sexuality and sex work that speak to one or more of the following broad topics:

  • Community, diversity and mobility within the sex industry;
  • Community, diversity and mobility within the LGBT community;
  • Gender/sexual identities and fluidities;
  • Sexual dissidents, activism and advocacy;
  • Human trafficking/migrant sex workers;
  • Human and labour rights in sex work;
  • Gentrification and its impacts on queer spaces/red light districts;
  • Health and wellbeing amongst sexual minorities;
  • Stigma/stereotypes/social exclusion of sexual minorities and the sex industry;
  • Crime/violence towards sexual minorities and sex workers;
  • Production/distribution/consumption of pornography/adult entertainment;
  • Geographies of swinging/dogging/cruising;
  • Digital geographies of sex, sexuality and sex work;
  • Virtual reality, sexbots and human sexual relations;
  • Stigma and social exclusion of/in the sex industry;
  • Policing, criminal justice and sexed spaces;
  • Labour rights, health and safety issues within the sex industry;
  • Policy, politics and regulation of sexual landscapes;
  • Reproductive rights;
  • Liminal spaces/stigmatisation of sexuality, sex work and the sex industry;
  • BDSM/Kink/fetish spaces/communities; and
  • Censorship and sexualisation.

The #GeoSex18 special session series welcomes abstracts/papers from scholars, policy researchers within government agencies, consultancies, NGOs and sex work advocacy/support organisations and research-minded sex work activists from a range of disciplines and ideological/theoretical/methodological/empirical standpoints. If you are interested in taking part in this special session please send your abstract including: (i) paper title; (ii) author(s); (iii) institutional affiliation(s); (iv) email addresses; (v) a 250 word (maximum) abstract; and (vi) 5 key words to the co-convenors at GeoSex16@gmail.com by no later than 16th October 2017.

Co-Convenors:

 Dr Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia (Australia)

Dr. Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire (UK)

Dr. Erin Sanders-McDonagh, University of Kent (UK)

 

Erin also has a new book out this year, entitled Women And Sex Tourism Landscapes, published by Routledge, which may be of interest to potential presenters!   You can view the details here: https://www.routledge.com/Women-and-Sex-Tourism-Landscapes/Sanders-McDonagh/p/book/9781138814547 .

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CFP #AAG2017 – (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance

Call for Papers for the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting (#AAG2017)

Boston, USA, 5-10 April 2017

 

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Image taken from: http://www.nswp.org/event/3rd-annual-red-umbrella-march-sex-work-solidarity

 

(De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance (#Geosex17)

The socio-spatial, cultural and legal contours that surround sex, sexualities and sex work have long interested geographers, sociologists and criminologists.  Similarly, stigmatisation and social exclusion of marginalised sexual communities and sexual dissidents have also been at the forefront of academic thought, alongside how varying regulatory approaches contribute to perpetuating or diluting such effects on these communities.

In simple binary terms, political and policy attitudes towards commercial sex premises (e.g. sex shops, strip clubs, brothels) and sexual dissidents (e.g. sex workers, porn performers, LGBTI communities, consumers of commodified/commercialised forms of sex) veer between the (i) pragmatic and progressive and (ii) regressive and punitive.  Recent changes to sex work regulation, for example, have included: (i) the introduction of the ‘Nordic regime’ in France and Northern Ireland; (ii) the establishment of mandatory health counselling prior to and as a condition for registration for sex workers in Germany; and (iii) the introduction of Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs) in the State of New York. In the US, where sex work remains criminalised (except in parts of Nevada), federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have been at the forefront of a series of ‘sting operations’ on street-based sex workers and the closure of online escort agencies often on the premise of tackling human trafficking and money laundering. In 2016 the international human rights group, Amnesty International, confirmed its support for the decriminalisation of sex work, joining a host of other international organisations who support this policy stance. Interestingly, the policy agenda on sex work in the UK took an unexpected turn recently when the Home Affairs Committee on Prostitution indicated that a more pragmatic regulatory approach to sex work was required.

Pornography has also witnessed shifting socio-legal landscapes, with governments calling for and/or enacting varying forms of internet filtering and censorship of certain sexual acts (e.g face-sitting and female ejaculation).  Such moves have been argued to be highly gender biased. These are paralleled by other regulatory changes (e.g. mandatory condom use for adult performers) being introduced/advocated, but vehemently opposed within the adult performer community in the USA.  The state government in Utah recently declared that pornography was a public health hazard and consumption was at epidemic levels. Annual data from Pornhub, one of the world’s largest providers of online pornography, does indeed show that there is global mass consumption of porn. However, systematic research on the supposed deleterious effects of porn consumption remain seriously underdeveloped.

Relatedly, the ways in which sex, sexualities and sex work are performed, produced and consumed have also experienced changes in recent years, largely due to advances in mobile technology and the Internet. This raises interesting questions about the nature and dynamism within different sexscapes: (i) at a variety of scales, from the body and digital avatars to commercial sex work premises (e.g. pornography studios, brothels, camming spaces, BDSM venues, and the street); (ii) the wellbeing and safety of sex workers; and, (iii) the nature of community and mobility within and across different sectors of the sex industry.  Such shifts in technological advances have paved new ways and created new spaces for sexual dissidents engaged in consensual commercial forms of sex to communicate, mobilise and, ultimately, oppose stigmatisation and challenge policy and legislation.

This special session therefore seeks papers that focus on the broad themes of politics, policy and performance in/of sex, sexualities and sex work/the sex industry and how the concepts of labelling, stigmatisation and stereotyping are operationalised/resisted from above and below.  Papers can be theoretical, methodological and/or empirical and should speak to, but are by no means limited to, the following broad topics:

  • The social/economic/cultural geographies of adult retailing, queerness, sex work and pornography;
  • Stigma and social exclusion of/within sex work and the sex industry;
  • Liminal spaces and liminal stigmatisation of sexuality, sex work and the sex industry;
  • Community, diversity and mobility within sex work;
  • Kink/fetish spaces/communities involving bondage and discipline (BD), dominance and submission (DS), sadism and masochism (SM) (BDSM);
  • Performing sex work/sex worker identities via professional and/or protest/advocacy spaces;
  • Peer-education and advocacy within sex worker communities;
  • Sex, sexuality, sex work and disabilities;
  • Customers/clients and the sex industry;
  • Policing and criminal justice approaches to regulating the sex industry; and
  • Sex trafficking/exploitation and consensual commercial sex.

We welcome abstracts/papers by scholars, sex worker-academics, research-minded sex workers/sex work activists, adult entertainment performers/activists, and government/policy researchers from all theoretical, ideological, political, methodological, and empirical standpoints.

Please send your abstract (max 250 words) including title, 5 key words, author(s), institutional affiliation and contact details (including email) to the session convenors by no later than 14th October 2016.

Details about the AAG 2017 Conference and how to register/submit an abstract are available here – http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/call_for_papers

 

Session Convenors:

Assoc. Prof. Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia, paul.maginn@uwa.edu.au. (@planographer)

Dr. Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire, ecooper2@uclan.ac.uk. (@liminographer)

Dr. Erin Sanders-Mcdonagh, University of Kent, E.Sanders-McDonagh@kent.ac.uk  (@erinsandersmcd)

Sex in the City: Reactionism, Resistance and Revolt – AAG #Geosex16 sessions in San Francisco (March/April 2016) **POST 1/5 – SESSION I**

Sex in the City: Reactionism, Resistance and Revolt – AAG #Geosex16 sessions in San Francisco (March/April 2016)

A couple of weeks ago I returned from the Association of American Geographers conference in San Francisco.  The conference was a great opportunity to catch up with friends/colleagues (old and new!) and San Francisco was a lot of fun.  I also had a week in Las Vegas, where I did a talk at UNLV and lots of holidaying.  Taking a drive up to the Grand Canyon in Arizona was definitely a highlight.  Here is me on my first look out:

grand canyon

Now onto our #geosex16 sessions.  Paul (@planographer), Martin (@Zebracki) Clarissa (DrClarissaSmith) and I were completely overwhelmed with the response that we got from the call for papers and the sessions went really well.  We had a range of presenters, including academics (early and established careers), sex workers, sex worker academics and the quality of papers was excellent.  Here is Paul’s interview with Xbiz.com about the sessions:  http://business.avn.com/articles/novelty/Sex-Work-to-Receive-Platform-at-AAG-Annual-Conference-640645.html.

I tried to take some notes during the sessions in order to be able to report on some of the papers in this blog for those who couldn’t attend.  Some are more comprehensive than others – this was due to me having to undertake chairing duties/wrist-ache and/or I was charging the laptop.  I have incorporated elements of the paper abstracts with the notes taken by me to enable some of the gaps in note-taking to be filled.  Due to my over-enthusiastic note-taking(!), I’ll be posting the entries session-by-session.

Session I – Performance, Production & Politics

Zahra Stardust (@ZahraStardust) (University of New South Wales): “Queer feminist pornography as a social movement: Protest, resistance and radical politics”

Zahra kicked our sessions off excellently, with her paper about queer feminist pornography.  Based upon 19 qualitative interviews with porn producers, Zahra’s research explores how they maintain political integrity and ethics whilst navigating the regulatory framework.  She argued that porn acts as a protest mechanism against state censorship and government intervention while also deliberately and poetically violating laws designed to closet non-normative practices.

As Zahra outlined, in Australia, the production, exhibition and sale of pornography is criminalised, attracting fines and imprisonment; thus, porn producers are ‘sexual outlaws’. Customs and Classifications have prohibited pornography depicting female ejaculation, small breasts (which look ‘underdeveloped’), genital detail and fetishes (eg BDSM). Resistance to such laws include the recent ‘face-sitting’ protest outside Westminster (UK) in 2014.  Despite this, Australia has a queer feminist porn community whose work receives notoriety worldwide.

Zahra explained how shooting porn is a guerrilla operation.  Porn sets operate as temporary autonomous zones (such as warehouses, the bush, backyards), organised by word of mouth in transient locations. Smartphones are also turned off to avoid identification by authorities.   Porn production involves skill-sharing, resource-lending and a DIY approach with the capacity to create mobilised, empowered communities. New technology has democratised porn: of which there is a multitude of different types.  Zahra outlined how the producer, distributor, consumer boundary is now much more blurred, and who can produce porn/who can represent others is also now changing as a result.  Performers are becoming directors, and directors are becoming facilitators; enabling more control of representation and revenue, and helping the performer’s experience to be prioritised (eg the micro-geographies of working conditions). Therefore, more collaborative and facilitative models of production are forged, and performers can more readily ‘forge one’s own space instead of looking elsewhere to be represented’, which is creating more ‘participatory spaces’, as well as greater potential for entrepreneurial opportunities.

Zahra’s research shows that production fosters an ‘ethics of care’ and ongoing dialogue about community standards that resists patriarchal state regulation.  Zahra argued that leaders abdicating power is the future of queer feminist and ethical porn’, with a redistribution of wealth and a trickle effect on every other aspect of the business being possible.  Due to the “accountability to communitythat ensues from the blurring of roles (as opposed to the producer-performer boundary being clear-cut), this also improve working conditions, health and safety, and creates clearer policies and better contracts for performers.

I particularly liked Zahra’s final statement: that porn is “art, work, and business”, with binaries in class and taste being presented as “good” or “bad” porn being unhelpful.  She stated that “it is essential to tackle stigma directly” instead of such unhelpful categorisations, in order to more effectively tackle issues such as exploitation and to ensure appropriate working conditions for performers.

 

Gemma Commane (@GemCommane) (Birmingham City University): “RubberDoll: The Queer Art of Failure and the Significance of Sexual Otherness”

Gemma’s powerful paper presented a case study of RubberDoll (http://rubberdoll.net/): a hard-core fetish latex model, performance-artist and full-time kinkster.  Gemma outlined that the Rubberdoll brand originated in the 1990s, with photos of her modelling rubber clothing, and progressed to performances at clubs etc (of which there is a high demand for appearances).  The act includes multiple ways of expressing sexuality, and is more dominant than submissive – which is evident in stage shows, dvds etc.  Gemma outlined that “latex is a flexible subject”, which has the ability to embrace “pervy heavy rubber” and elegant “couture”. 

Gemma argued that RubberDoll’s latex-encased lifestyle and artistic expressivity is cleverly mixed across and within a range of hybridized forms of technologies and leisure-time environments, where she continuously presents a journey to the outer-limits of fetish and kink. The social nature of the spaces of performances, Gemma explained, enable great opportunities for personal expression and to explore self-identity.  Such spaces also cater for Rubberdolls’ sexual appetite and preferences, reproducing them via music choices, act choices and ambience – “irrespective of external ideological forces which represent her as a failure of femininity, morally corrosive and dangerous”.   The creativity in crafting such performative spaces and use of layers in performance is “artistic gendered activism”.

Using Ahmed’s definition of queering something as to ‘disrupt the other of things’, Gemma argues that via managing herself and expanding on how (her) sexual expressivity and kink can be communicated,  RubberDoll queers the cis-gendered male gaze and develops the political significance of sexual otherness.  I think my favourite statement of the paper was that alternative feminists should be valued as socially and politically significant: acts like Rubberdoll are reproducing alternative routes to success”.  Gemma outlined how repressive ideological values, which deem ‘Other’ women such as Rubberdoll as insignificant due to their lack of ability to conform to heterosexual norms (eg relating to coupling, intimacy, desire and pleasure), can and should be disrupted.  Rubberdoll’s failure to conform and radical undermining of normative scripts, Gemma stated, is not only important in seeing identity as having endless possibilities (e.g. that femininity is not owned by one type of woman only, and is not one-dimensional), but it has been key to her entrepreneurial success.  Her business empire has survived multiple barriers against female entrepreneurs such as status, networks, funding and she is now one of the top fetish artists.  As Gemma’s abstract states: “this has also been in the face of the issues and tensions that intersect and are expressed when a woman engages with pornography, sexual deviancy, and kink. This makes visible the potential of a flexibly-queer community of difference, where kinky-queer women are able to live their self-identity both personally and professionally”.

 

Lucy Neville, BA (Hons), MSc, PhD, PGCertHE (@blue_stocking) (Middlesex University): “A Forum Of One’s Own: Female Slash Writers And Online Embodiment”

Lucy’s paper drew on a piece of wide-scale mixed-methods research (n=351) that examined how women who write gay male erotica and pornography utilise online spaces as places for exploring their own gender and sexuality. Her research investigates the ways in which online space provides what is perceived by participants as a ‘safe’ environment for creatively examining issues around gender, sexuality and sexual performance – particularly challenging heteronormativity and gender conformity. Lucy drew from Feona Atwood’s extensive work, arguing that the boundaries between online erotic content and real life sexuality can be blurred via such spaces. Previous work has looked at how online slashfic communities might provide a space for exploring gender performance and sexuality in a way that constitutes Foucault’s vision of ‘creative practice’ as a form of political dissent (Hayes & Ball, 2009).

Other work has observed a tension between writers and readers who see the online community as ‘safe queer space’ to explore their own lived queer identities, and those who only ‘play at queerness’ exclusively within the online environment (Lothian, Busse, & Reid, 2007).  Lucy argued that, as the virtual plays a constitutive role in the materialization of gender, sexuality, and embodiment in both digital and physical spaces (van Doorn, 2011), the distinction between ‘online’ and ‘lived’ experiences needs to be better examined.

Lucy’s findings suggested that the online can provide a narrative safe haven; to develop the strength necessary to find a sense of belonging and meet like-minded individuals.  She also discussed that the action of writing and consuming gay male erotica, for her participants, isn’t just about sex, but about having an online space, free from heteronormative conditions, where they can talk about life and sexuality in a way that is less restricted by such boundaries.  Lucy discussed the importance of spaces in the public sphere for subcultural practices, be they physical or virtual, and for changing political views more generally.

Some of the underpinning questions to Lucy’s research included: does tension exist between authentic queer experience and queer tourism; and how do the women in these communities feel about it?

Some findings: the majority of respondents said they used material to masturbate, that it wasn’t just a political crusade (although 68% of what participants read or watched had some sort of political angle, e.g. seen a gateway to activism), but had a tremendous important role in their everyday practices/lives.  The majority were against the shaming of women’s sexual fantasies/practices.  One highlighted quote from a participant was: “it made me more open about accepting/understanding people who are not sitting in one labelled box”.  Lucy outlined that there was also cross-identification and fluid gender identification going on within the sample.  She did outline, however (although in the minority), that some participants experienced backlash for using the spaces – one having been called a homophobe, and one stating that “as a woman my experiences are considered invalid”.  Generally, though, the space is seen as inclusive and also a space to learn – to open up beliefs and to expand knowledge about sexuality, gender, and sex.    Also, it is considered a space to be happy – “gay guys are never allowed to live happily ever after in literature; one or both end up dead!”. 

 

Prof. Clarissa Smith (@drclarissasmith) (University of Sunderland): “Because life without porn would be boring.” Thinking about Young People, Pornography and Everyday Spaces”

Clarissa’s paper centred on recent moral crusades regarding the ‘pornification’ of society and changes in UK legislation, with a particular focus on how young people have been described and problematized in such discourse.  She discussed how arguments about pornification offer a view of public and private spaces as entirely permeated and shaped by pornography. In relation to young people, she argued, such talk conflates a range of issues: about protection, childhood, space and place and privacy. The range of recent UK legislation, she states, has sought to ‘protect’ young people and to keep ‘vile images’ out of the home.

Clarissa argued that such legal and protectionist discourses have marked the Internet as a major threat to the sanctity and innocence of the family home; cyberspace is figured as an alluring yet dangerous space for young people.  In the UK, 3 major reports have been written for government since 2008, with changes being made such as ‘opt-in’ adult content filters online, and age verification.  These adaptations have also been accompanied by documentaries such as Porn on the Brain (Channel 4) – which insinuated that pornography is ‘turning our children into psychopaths’.  Clarissa highlighted how ‘exposure’ gets used over and over again in legislative discourse, with porn considered ‘a poison in the home’ (Fagan), putting our children ‘in harm’s way’.   Such documentaries and legal discourses also discuss addiction, with consumers being portrayed as either victims or as having become perpetrators.  Some of the imagery used in media include “bags under ‘Charlie’s eyes, his spots, his moodiness, etc’” as being directly a result of porn use by young people.  Clarissa also outlined how the documentary “used pictures of the home in very particular ways eg young people making cakes with mum”; contrasting the differences between ‘other’ activities and what ‘should’ happen in the home.

Clarissa also outlined how concerns surrounding engagement in non-normative sexual activities e.g. anal sex, and the nostalgia for another time are encapsulated in the motivations for UK legislation change – the notion that porn used to be different (Dines) and fears around where/what it will lead to next. A key claim, she argued, is that “porn has developed outside the knowledge of ordinary parents/adult and needs urgent redress”.  The dominant model, she said, is that porn is a singular form, it slips under adult radar, is portrayed as a new phenomenon, and the remedies are clear.  The role of the Internet as a socialising space also comes into such discussions.  However, she argued that ‘the social relations through which young people engage with pornography are rarely examined’, and certainly not with a critical lens that does not singularly centre on young people as victims.  The complexities of young peoples’ use of the Internet as a means of escaping adult interference whilst also a space of parental surveillance are ignored in most policy investigations.  Her research, including a complex online questionnaire (100 under 18s) combining quantitative and qualitative questions into the meanings and pleasures of pornography, challenges these accounts.  The data complicates any notion that young people encounter sexual media by inadvertent ‘exposure’ to it and suggests that sexually explicit materials have intricate connections to young peoples’ understandings of family and the household space, and have multiple significances for their senses of themselves as sexual subjects.

Some findings: the home, which is generally seen as a place of safety, was also considered a “place of secrets” by participants.  Participants discussed understanding that ‘adult things were going on’ and wanting to know what they are.  She outlined narratives including looking to find out what the adult secret of sex was eg under beds, in cupboards. The internet is seen as a vast playground in which young people want to map their own ways through, and that young people eventually move into spaces of their own via preferences – “rather than the degenerative ‘slippery slope discussion like we get in policy reviews, ‘ending up’ in fetish material”.  Clarissa also outlined that what people mean by ‘fetish material is not necessarily antagonistic, violent material’ – nor that exploration is simply a one-way street, moving backwards and forwards; people do have histories and connections with porn over time. She finished by discussing the play-off between kinds of ways of thinking about porn as something to enhance one’s life/be playful, but also that it can also be a part of one’s identity, reflecting something about oneself.

Call for Papers: Researching Sexed Spaces: (Re)Imagining the Researcher and (Re)Discovering the ‘Other’ in Understanding Lived Experiences of Exclusion”

I am very excited to announce our call for papers. The deadline for abstracts is very tight, 11th February, so please do share widely and contact us for any extra information.

The Royal Geographical Conference website is here 26th to 29th August 2014, held at Imperial College London.

We aim for this to be a cutting edge, innovative exciting stream, cutting across disciplines and attracting submissions from those outside academia. We particularly welcome abstracts from charities, independent researchers, and sex workers themselves.

All information below:

Session Title “Researching Sexed Spaces: (Re)Imagining the Researcher and (Re)Discovering the ‘Other’ in Understanding Lived Experiences of Exclusion” (Sponsored by the Space, Sexualities & Queer Research Group) Organisers: Emily Cooper (Lancaster University) and Gemma Ahearne (Leeds Metropolitan University)

Recent decades have produced a rapid emergence of research in geography surrounding the complex relationship between sexuality, space and society and the centrality of sexuality in the late modern world (Attwood 2006).  Of particular relevance – although not exhaustively – have been: the geographies of sex work, LGBT communities, virtual sexed spaces, sex tourism (especially in reaction to large sports events) and lap dancing establishments.  The role of space and place in the constitution of sexual identities – and in the control of those considered to be sexually dissident – have been understood by geographers particularly (Hubbard 2008).   This dissidence and often subsequent socio-spatial marginalisation especially relates to the challenge of heteronormative ideals and spaces that is ascribed to and by stigmatised sexual identities (Binnie and Valentine 1999; Peterson 2011; Hubbard et al 2013).

It has been acknowledged, therefore, that due to the stigmatised nature of certain sexual identities, it is difficult to access these hidden populations (Shaver 2005) and to provide them with a voice (Hubbard 1999).  Recently, however, there has been an increased interest in exploring methods that allow researchers to overcome and challenge the often homogeneous depictions of excluded groups (Binnie and Valentine 1999; Shaver 2005) and to explore the lived experiences of their socio-spatial spheres via the empowerment of the othered population; researching, therefore with participants rather than about them (Desyllass 2013) in the form of participatory methods, ethno-mimesis and other such approaches.  This culminates in the co-production of knowledge in research.  Exploring inter-disciplinarity – particularly between geography, sociology and the arts – is therefore of particular relevance.

We invite papers from a range of global contexts that explore researching sexed spaces, with a particular interest in methodological and empirical frameworks, but we would welcome a theoretical focus.  We also particularly encourage papers from outside of academia, including – but not restricted to – charities, outreach organisations and support groups, in order to encourage the forging of academic/activist/practitioner collaborations. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

– Inter-disciplinarity in researching sexed spaces

– New/adapted methods in understanding the lived experiences of stigma and exclusion

– Ethno-mimesis and performative praxis

– Researching liminal spaces and identities

– The Self/Other dichotomy

– The role of policy/regulation in shaping the geographies of sexed spaces

– Challenges faced in researching sexed spaces and/or marginalised groups

– Managing emotions in fieldwork

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to Emily Cooper (e.cooper2@lancs.ac.uk) or Gemma Ahearne (g.ahearne6856@student.leedsmet.ac.uk) by 11th February 2014.

References
Attwood, F. (2006) “Sexed up: Theorizing the Sexualization of Culture”. Sexualities 9 (1), pp. 77-94

Binnie, J. and Valentine, G. (1999) Geographies of sexualities: a review of progress. Progress in Human Geography 23, pp. 175-187.

Desyllass, M. (2013) “Using photo-voice with sex workers: The power of art, agency and resistence”. Qualitative Social Work (available online http://qsw.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/08/22/1473325013496596.full.pdf+html)

Hubbard, P. (1999) “Researching female sex work: reflections on geographical exclusion, critical methodologies and ‘useful’ knowledge”. Area 31 (3), pp. 229-237

Hubbard, P. (2008). “Here, there, everywhere: the ubiquitous geographies of heteronormativity”. Geography Compass, 2 (3), pp. 640 – 658

Hubbard, P. Boydell, S., Crofts, P., Prior, J. and Searle, G. (2013) “Noxious neighbours? Interrogating the impacts of sex premises in residential areas”. Environment and Planning A 45, pp. 126-141

Peterson, G. (2011) “Neoliberal Homophobic Discourse: Heteronormative Human Capital and the Exclusion of Queer Citizens” Journal of Homosexuality 58 (6-7), pp. 747-757

Shaver, F. (2005) “Sex work research: methodological and ethical challenges”. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 20 (3), pp. 296-319