Category Archives: thesis journal

chapter in book

I did a chapter for the ‘Communicative approaches to politics and ethics in Europe’ ECREA book.  It is

called ‘Translocal connectivity and political identity: Brighton queer cultural activism’. Here is the book announcement:

NEW BOOK

It is our pleasure to announce the publication of our fourth ECREA Summer School Book, entitled
“Communicative approaches to politics and ethics in Europe. The intellectual work of the 2009
ECREA European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School,” edited by Nico Carpentier, Pille
Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, Richard Kilborn, Tobias Olsson, Hannu Nieminen, Ebba Sundin and Kaarle
Nordenstreng. You can download a PDF-version of this book – free of charge – from the Summer
School website (http://www.comsummerschool.org), or the Researching and Teaching Communication
Series website (http://www.researchingcommunication.eu/).

Thedirect link to the book is: http://www.researchingcommunication.eu/reco_book5.pdf.
A print version can be ordered by sending an email to bookshop@ut.ee.

This book includes a series of papers that were presented by lecturers and PhD-students at the
ECREA European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School, in August 2009 in Tartu (Estonia)
(supported by a European Commission Socrates Erasmus IP Project (contract number:
69935-IC-1-2007-EE-ERASMUS- EUC-1), the European Communication Research and Education Association (www.ecrea.eu), the University of Tartu – the Department of Journalism and Communication

(www.jrnl.ut.ee), the Danish National Research School for Media, Communication and Journalism,
the Finnish National Research School and a consortium of 22 universities.

end of year 1

this has been a particularly busy period, hence the absence. As I completed the report of the pilot study, I started thinking about the next case study- making outlines and reading around. Then I presented my work so far at the Departmental DPhil day- this was the first public presentation of my work and turned out to be very interesting in terms of feedback, especially as I had anticipated a different sort of feedback. The presentation itself as a process, the publicity and the feedback raised questions for me- which I now have to tackle with a position paper. At first I thought that these issues were methodological and perhaps epistemological and that I would have to work further on my methodology chapter. This need still remains to be addressed- for example I was particularly interested in the construction of agent and subject in the research context and the materiality of this context. It seems however that these questions can wait and perhaps at this point would take me further away from the difficulty I have to face- and that is to articulate a position towards the theme I am writing about, namely queer and feminist activism. I have been escaping from this task all year, mainly because still don’t feel sufficiently informed to have a position. But I have been directly asked to do this and sooner or later it would happen. I know that this is not a final ‘static’ position and only this way I can even start thinking about it. So I am now faced with some uncomfortable little ‘truths’ about my own political clingings and how they might be framed, in this sea of -isms and -ists.

In any case, this is a productive period, and a wildly exciting new era to be discovered for me, and this the  feminist scholarly work around biotechnologies, bioethics. I am a little behind with this work, but I am starting to have a vague idea about the feminist issues in this field of debates- and even though this is early to say, I think I am impressed with the clarity of arguments. But most of all I think I am enthusiastic about this whole new field of interest for me- once I have completed a stage of introductory reading I will formulate the focus for my case study.

Meanwhile, I have been accepted at the ECREA Doctoral Summer School and will spend two weeks there in August. And I am co-organising the Biodigital Lives workshop at Sussex in July, which I think will be by far one of the most intellectually intriguing events of the year.

Inline Skating and Qualitative Research: Pilot study Update

My Pilot Study lasted approximately 5 weeks. I collected my data using a variety of methods, namely qualitative interviewing, online ethnography (mainly on facebook), direct observation and participation. This has been a very interesting  and rather uncertain period. I think it includes all the mistakes that people do as first-comers.

I did a 2 hour begginers training for inline skates today and I drew a mental parallel to my pilot study- this made me feel better both for my skating and my research. There is a certain enthusiasm at first, but on the other hand,  a recognition of skills that need to be exercised and not theoretically learned. There is also fear of falling and speculation of the risk. And finally, the anticipation for the benefit of knowing how to do it (simply the pleasure of it in skating). Like skating, the pilot started with enthusiasm. At some point the possibilities seemed endless and this is where uncertainty came in.  How do I keep within the bounds of my research questions?

I have now started to code my material. The first coding stage consists of primarily describing and recognising themes. I use NVivo8 (Qualitative Data software) and the program calls themes and concepts ‘nodes’. I have not figured out how to do a visual straight out of my node relationships and trees, but I have the suspicion that the program will not do this for me, I will have to draw a nice map myself. Which is fair and, in fact better, because this way I will do a map rather than a hierarchy. At the same time, transcription still goes on. Transcribing interviews takes a long time and I have decided to transcribe only the parts that are of most interest to me.

The interviews are very important to me and I have changed how they are done along the way. I will write a reflective report specifically on the interview process (this will be formaly submitted as assessment for the Qualitative Research Methods course I took this term) -how my approach changed from life history, to unstructured, to structured and whether I could have tried to do structured interviews on the first place. Even though my sense at the moment overall is that the most successful of all interviews was the structured one (the informant had the questions before out meeting and eventually gave a life history account!), I will need to complete my analysis to be certain.

My time plan for the analysis is – vacation week 1: transcribing and coding (first phase)

week 2: History of LGBT Activism and Brighton part write-up

week 3: Qualitative Analysis (phase 2)

week 4: Write up Reflective Report

week 1 and 2 of summer term: Write up Pilot Study Report

Meanwhile, I am working on the Disability, Blogging, Women chapter that will be included in the Feminist Grassroots Media in Europe anthology. The goal is to have it ready by the end of March so that I get some feedback before submition (1 May). It is a busy spring break.

straight spaces, heteronormative spaces, queer spiritual spaces, lesbian spaces, nonhuman spaces

I move from one to the other and the transition is perceptible. The streets of Brighton I do not think as particularly straight or lesbian. They are British and they are difficult: waves of cars come and go from unexpected sides (constant surprise is what you pay for being non-british) and the waves of pedestrians do not conform. In the centre, pedestrians move disorderly, along the pavement which is wider or cross, almost never vertically and almost never after pausing. Of course this is a brutal generalisation. But it is the effect of moving mostly on wheels (even if that is a bicycle) where the expectation is that a crowd moves as one entity. The bicycle does not allow for eye contacts, perhaps only for angry looks to car drivers who trespass bicycle territory. But there is no time for flirting as in the sense of the lesbian flaneur(1).

My sense of campus has been that of a negotiated space, mostly because it is a place where people come to experiment, intellectually and sexually. As I am helping out at the Queer Spirituality Spaces conference yesterday, and moving around floors and common rooms, I see a girl I know kissing her girlfriend, on the sofa. I try to remember when the last time I saw a straight couple kissing on campus was. Earlier, Sally Munt, introducing the building to the conference participants, explains the heteronormativity of its construction pointing to separate toilet rooms for women and men. The normativity of campus goes beyond the placement of tables and chairs in the classroom. Apart from the Library Square and Bramber House (where all the commercial activity goes on), there are very limitted places to sit. Social activity is guided to these spaces of enormous visibility. Eating, hugging, campaigning, talking has to happen in the middle of everybody. Eventually, I remember seeing straight people kissing at the Library square.

Even though the conference seemingly has nothing spiritual about it except for the themes, there is a certain series of rituals that are followed upstairs and I am helping for them to happen. The coffee break, the lunch but perhaps most importantly the wine reception. People gather around food and alchool and talk about spirituality and the meaning of queer. Larger circles, smaller circles, ambivalent duos and celibate drinkers, multiple dynamic centres in motion. Lesbian circles, queer circles and spiritual straight celibates. I discuss the L-word and child sexuality.

I move from this diverse space to a severely straight space-the taxi cab. In Athens the taxi-cab leaves hefty marks on the asphalt and dominates by means of absurd driving habits and general loudness. Here there are issues of class in the division of front-back seats and the machoism of the driver is coming through when he overhears a private discussion and when he curses the pedestrian who talks to his mobile phone.

When I move again, it is from a lesbian space to a straight space and it feels like a slap on the face- and this is Brighton still. I go by feet, I walk the stairs and enter. After taking my shoes off, I notice that eveyone has shoes on. This observation makes me sense this is a straight space but I have difficulty spotting down the differences and making an argument about it. Girls and boys, boys and girls-and the distance between them, this is the only argument I can make. A woman talks about tidying up her boyfriend’s mess and two dead animals are in the story. While she narrates she turns her head and smiles at him. I introduce myself to a man who just comes in and within minutes he crosses the room and I see him standing alone again on another corner, soon with other men. There is discussion about marriage and long-term relationship but there are no stories about kissing or any touching going on. There is an emphasis on procedures and doing things right. Ownership and negotiations of power are constantly going on.

I move to the nonhuman space late at night and this less complicated, the cat defines the space as a place of food, play, rest and affection. The cat sits on the keyboard because it is warm and she purrs-she falls in love with the spine of certain books and the sole of my boot. I look at the cat and I go online and I feel comfortable again.

(1) Munt, S. (1995) ‘The Lesbian Flaneur’ in David Bell, Gill Valentine ‘Mapping desire: geographies of sexualities’

reflections on the WLM event

At Birkbeck on Friday, there was an overview of the Norwegian Women’s Liberation Movement by Hilde Danielsen from Bergen University (Rokkan Centre of Social Research). Her work is part of a bind project that looks at intimacy and autonomy in the construction of the Norwegian feminist, gender roles and masculinity, everyday practices (clothing, interiors, photographs) and issues of private and public. During her presentation some issues of the 1970s magazine Sirene circulated- emphasis was put on the role of magazines and books (US origin mostly and local) for the construction og the Norwegian feminist. The NWLM worked through ‘intimacy’ for ‘autonomy’ and ‘authenticity’-these were the central concepts of the project. I noted down some interesting ‘paroles’ the movement used: “I will be Prime Minister” (it was mentioned that they actually had a woman PM some 6 years after this was first heard), “No to Forced Childbirths”, “No to Motherhood”, “We want to Be on Top”, “No to forced Fucking”. In Norwey the concept of the ‘housewife’ is unknown, instead they use the word ‘house-mother’ which Hilde defined as the woman who has ‘someone else than herself to look after’. At the time, Sirene and other publications called for women to leave the role of the housemother and this icon functioned as a class-unifier (though the class system is considerably different to the UK one). Paid work was the solution. The other idea central to the norwegian feminist identity was sexual pleasure- the sleeping beauty metaphor was used by magazines and groups. I jotted down this phrase from Kvinnenfront: “…clitorises in a Sleeping Beauty state of sleep due to lack oftouching and stimulus”. Publications like ‘OurBodies Ourselves’ were remade totally from scratch for the norwegian context. The talk ended with the thought that this unified collective identity of the 1970s norwegian feminist may have played a role in the individualization of the 80s movement.

continues…