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Accepted Paper:

Rethinking Queer Activism and Social Invisibility  
Eva Theunissen (Masaryk University)

Paper short abstract:

In this round table, I aim to contribute to the debate on queer activism and solidarity by questioning the ways in which the desired invisibility of fieldwork participants may reflect upon our ethnographic research practices.

Paper long abstract:

The PhD thesis I am working on addresses the arenas of transgender YouTube vlogging, adult camming and BDSM image-practices. My PhD project focuses on questions of social marginalization and aims to explore how digital visual practices may help social actors/communities grapple with the intricacies of social invisibility. Conducting online and offline fieldwork, I engage with actors exposed to stigmatization on the basis of their non-normative embodied understandings. My interest is to explore how queer studies can help us gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of power in the context of digital visuality. Recently I have also developed an interest for queer posthumanism as a framework for rethinking questions of agency and identity politics in increasingly technologized contexts of life.

Inspired by the writings of Lewin (2016) and Weiss (2016), who believe the political activist ambition of queer anthropology is often rather a sought-after aspiration on the side of the researcher, I have begun to question my own assumptions. This has led me to interrogate the extent to which 'social visibility' is, in fact, a desired condition for my interlocutors. The desire of visibility expressed by my interlocutors in the context of YouTube trans* vlogging is indeed countered by the desire of invisibility expressed by the BDSM practitioners I have worked together with. These political issues have implications for the way in which I conduct ethnographic research. In this roundtable I hope to be able contribute to this debate by questioning the taken-for-granted notions of solidarity and activism.

Panel P036
Queer and feminist ethnography on the move [Roundtable, European Network of Queer Anthropology (ENQA) and Network for the Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality (NAGS)]
  Session 1 Wednesday 15 August, 2018, -