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Accepted Paper:

Online self representation of a sex tourist: an unethical ethnography  
Alberto Gerosa (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Paper short abstract:

The ethnography analyzes a Westerners' sex tourism community, and the representations of their own travels. As contact has not been established and consent has not been granted, the project poses ethical and legal issues.

Paper long abstract:

I analyze an international online community of male heterosexual sex tourists. Aim of this community is promoting the 'Tourist' lifestyle among wealthy westerners, and exchanging information on travel destinations in developing countries, mainly through audiovisual content and blog entries. In the process of conducting this Ethnography I have contacted but never reached the tourists, thus completing it without ever acquiring their consent or permission, or that of the sex workers who appear in the videos.

This research might therefore be considered illegal (not only from a mere copyright point of view), and unethical.

The online platform has been public from 2006 till spring 2013, videos were uploaded on youtube and embedded in the website, reaching more than 8 million views in january 2011 and becoming the second most watched German Youtube channel in early 2012.

Focusing exclusively on people's self representations is an attempt to bring ethnography to a degree where conventional approaches could not go, regarding people's images online as actors with agency.

Following Gramscian interpretation of intellectuals constantly re/negotiating their power with their own and especially other classes, the power relation between ethnographer and subjects of this study becomes crucial.

Panel P085
Undisclosed research and the future of ethnographic practice [Anthropology of Confinement Network]
  Session 1