Don’t lose your head, PhD Journey so far

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So, in January I was to begin my PhD entitled The visualisation of deviant raciality: a study of racial neoliberalism and the moral economies of whiteness in ‘post-racial’ Britain explored through the construction of white women as deviant/inadequately white. Bit of a mouthful. The supervisor was unable to commit to supervision duties, so I decided to stay in my department and research my other main interest, sex work.

My research interests mainly come under the umbrella of the regulation of women’s bodies.

So, I started a self-funded PhD on a part time basis at LJMU, researching Lap-dancing, emotion & affect. I gave my first paper at the University of Sheffield in June at the PGR ‘Translation & Tranformation’ conference. It was a wonderful experience and a seamlessly organised event. My paper was called Lap dancing in Liverpool: Translating moral panics on sex work and I think it was received reasonably well. There were lots of questions, and I actually enjoyed having to explain my research, it helped me think in a much clearer way. It also helped me start considering the topic in a more nuanced fashion. The debates are often extremely polarised, or are certainly presented that way, and they need not be. If someone objects to lap-dancing clubs, it does not necessarily mean they are whorephobic, and they are entitled to their view. What I am against however, is policy being based on the minority view and not evidence.

I am not going to lie about how hard self-funding is. I had an amazing team of three supervisors at LJMU who I respect and admire very much, but the funding aspect was dire. I was randomly told about an opportunity on findaphd.com, and applied the night it closed. It just felt right, and I felt it would be a good fit for the work I had already done. I was given a 24 hour extension to get a proposal in, the topic is (working title) ‘Sex Workers’ Experiences of Prison: From Punishment to Exiting’. . I was called for interview…. and got the studentship. I cannot tell you the relief to have full funding. I will have funding for conferences and events too now, and can dedicate myself full time to the project. I am so happy, and would encourage anyone wanting to study for a PhD to apply for funding. I didn’t have the confidence before, the thought of an academic interview seemed alien to me. I know funding is extremely scarce, but if you do get the opportunity you must take it. I felt awful leaving my current uni and my supervisors, but luckily they were totally supportive.

From 1st October, I will be based in the brand new Centre of Applied Social Research CeASR at Leeds Met. I feel very excited, fortunate and nervous. I thought my imposter syndrome would lessen if I got scholarship… it has got worse. Talking to those with long-standing careers in academia and/or research, it seems if you have imposter syndrome, you have it for good. However, I have been told this is a positive. I like to think I will always have empathy for others and never get an ego. These can only be good things in my eyes.

So, at present I am working on my methodology and beginning my lit reviews. I don’t see the research I have done thus far as a waste, I can using much of the literature, theory and methods (photo voice) and I gained a confidence at LJMU and an interest for several areas.

Having pulled out of the Normalcy conference at Sheffield Hallam (gutted) I am presenting the following papers so far:

Gender, Neoliberalism & Finance, York, Sep 2013 – presenting ‘Ladies Day’: A visual study of raciality and neoliberal marginality in Britain

Youth Sexualities, Durham, October 2013 – presenting ‘Slut Shaming: The Anxiety Of Excess’

Literary Dolls, Durham, March 2014 –presenting- Ladies’ Day: Bodies of Excess

If you are presenting too and want to get in touch please comment on here or tweet me @princessjack. I love to network and meet new people.

I am submitting another couple of abstracts and hope to present widely next year on my new research. I am always looking to connect with other postgraduate students, especially those in similar areas. I am interested in sex work, porn, celebrity, whiteness, chav, class, excess, hyper-visibility, disgust, deviance, exclusion, abjection, othering, disability, policy etc. If you want to get in touch, please do. If any undergraduates considering postgraduate study want to ask any questions, feel free to message me.

I have found using both a blog and twitter invaluable I cannot tell you this enough! I will be keeping a fieldwork diary, but this blog shall continue to act as a springboard for formulating ideas. I am extremely grateful to anyone who reads and/ comments, the instant feedback is an amazing tool for developing and rethinking concepts.

I am starting to use the following hashtags #sexworkresearch and #phdjourney so please use them too if you find it useful.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Hope you enjoy the new user-friendly look x

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