Suspicious, Suspect and Vulnerable

Going beyond the call and duty of ethics in life history research

Authored by: Mark Vicars

The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784291
eBook ISBN: 9781315768199
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665717


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In 2004, I embarked on fieldwork for my Doctoral study in to the literacy practices of gay men. Having completed a Masters degree in methodology prior to the commencement of my doctoral candidature, I reasoned to myself that I probably knew something about what I should be doing. And, yet, as the imposter syndrome strengthened, I nervously embarked on the fieldwork. I had assembled, from amongst my middle-aged, middle class, tertiary educated, gay friends, a group of five men who had been briefed that the focus of our conversations would be about our reading practices in adolescence. We met twice a month for eight months to discuss, how in childhood and adolescence, our literacy practices had been intimately involved with, and inseparable from our implicit queer motivations, involvements and desires. As we referenced how our sexual desires had positioned us as readers in search of particular knowledge, we told stories of tacit pleasures, covert relationships, and of the psychic and emotional messiness that emerged from becoming teenagers in a decade in which the global pandemic of AIDS had produced a zeitgeist of increasing moral panic and hysterical homophobia. As we reflected on how we had invested in discourses of normalcy (Walkerdine, 1997), our stories of tactically performing passing to re-author and reauthorize ourselves, our tales of illicit fucking and sucking, falling in and out of lust and love became connected to narratives of reading, of watching movies on drizzly Sunday afternoons in the North of England and of inserting in to these ostensibly ‘straight’ texts a queer presence.

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