Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Academic musings

I am reading Bodies of Inscription, which is an anthropology thesis about tattooing communities.  I do not have any tattoos – eventually I will find a place on my body for that grotesque I have been thinking about for years, but that’s beside the point.  The reason I am interested in the book is because the author, Margo DeMello, is a member of the tattooing community and she also did extensive academic work related to it.  This is of interest to me because I want to do sociological work dealing with the BDSM community.  More specifically I want to examine how participation in an established sexual community of interest affects private sexual behavior.  The hard part of course is that I consider myself a member of the BDSM community.  

I’m curious if any of you have found yourselves in similar positions.  On the one hand this might give me greater access to interview subjects and events.  On the other, I risk becoming either biased in my research or an outsider in the BDSM community.  I have no political agenda in my research interest.  As much as I admire the work of authors such as Califia, Queen, and Sprinkle, my academic interest lies in community sociology rather than political activism.  Still, I wonder if it is possible to do academically sound work in a community you are personally attached to.  I almost feel if it was more honest if I did have a political agenda.

Written by kinkinexile

August 23, 2007 at 3:07 pm

3 Responses

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  1. I risk becoming either biased in my research or an outsider in the BDSM community.

    Or both. That’s a tough line to walk. Not impossible, just hard. When I wanted to research bipolar disorder I wondered how the fact that I am diagnosed with the disorder would affect me. I came to the conclusion that it could be a detriment or a benefit, but that I would decide which.

    Then again, I also decided I was no longer interested in becoming a medical researcher. So y’know, whatever. 🙂


    August 23, 2007 at 9:21 pm

  2. Well, I think I clicked on a link on Devastating’s blog and got here…so I’ve not read enough to really know your focus…but I think if when you say “academic” you mean 1) funded research or 2) thesis for degree it would really depend on whom had to approve your project….just like any other. I would think being an insider would allow you the access to know where to begin. In my very limited knowledge you would need to very narrowly limit your topic or area of interest….because while there are BDSM commonalities…the differences are much more numerous than the similarities.

    My other thought is how could you pick any topic of research and not have a political view….that might not be your focus….but nothing exists outside of judgment..and as unbiased and as open minded as you might try to be in your research your basic humanity which is the sum of all your experiences will force you to have some feeling about your topic….

    Just my .02…..

    ~His girl~

    August 25, 2007 at 6:12 pm

  3. I agree with “His girl” who wrote “…I would think being an insider would allow you the access to know where to begin….”
    Certainly having ties to the community would give you access to people who would not normally be willing to talk to you about the subject.
    My ex-grrl did her doctoral dissertation on a subject that directly related to her career. She found that, indeed, having the link to the community of her peers was not only helpful but essential to her research.

    On another note, I am glad I finally managed to find time to look into this site. LOL…been curious but sadly tend to read your posts at work so have to limit where I look.


    September 7, 2007 at 11:52 am

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