Is there an-Other lesbian in my field: the subjectivity, knowledge and power lost and found through erotic experiences with informants
(AISSR, University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
I study my same-sex erotic experiences with informants during fieldwork in China, argue that in a highly globalized era, there is no an-Other lesbian in field, and the subjectivity, knowledge and power of researcher and researched are deconstructed and reinvented through these interactions.
Paper long abstract:
Twenty years ago, in the collection "Taboo", American anthropologist Evelyn Blackwood wrote about her experiences of falling in love with an-Other lesbian in her Indonesian field. She stressed the importance of a researcher's partially positioned self; discussed about the conflicts and bridging of cultural differences between her informant lover and herself; and reflected on the power inequality between the researcher from the first world and the researched from the third world. In order to dialogue with earlier reflexive writings on researcher-researched sex, subjectivity and power relation in fieldwork, my paper analyzes my own erotic, love and sexual experiences with informants during fieldwork on female same-sex relationships in contemporary China. I argue that when the researcher and the researched are both native Chinese and highly globalized, the notions of positioned/nomadic, difference/sameness, unequal/equal become non-binary and ever dynamic, especially in intimate interactions. At the same time, gaps exist between academic concepts and language, and the bodily practices and passionate aesthetics in everyday life. There is hardly "an-Other" lesbian in my field; and through erotic encounters and falling in love with lesbians who redefine "I" and "we", the subjectivity, knowledge and power in sex, gender, and sexuality of both the researcher and the researched might be deconstructed and reinvented.
Sex and the field: sex, power, and the production of anthropological knowledge