Sex Work Researcher Day Out 2014


We are having a sex work postgraduate researcher day out in Blackpool on June 13th 2014. What started out as Dr Emily Cooper and I meeting up to celebrate Emily’s viva success (yay!) and talk research, has become an open invitation to those postgraduate students studying sex work. We will also have a few researchers who have completed their PhD journey and are generous enough to share their time and support.


We are very fortunate in our area of research that most people are so lovely. Some areas of academia can be rather territorial, competitive and elitist, but the levels of peer support I have experienced show that sex work research is quite unique in that regard. This is an exciting generation of researchers, some of the work being undertaken is amazing.

There is already the excellent Yorkshire Academic Sex Work Consortium led by Dr Teela Sanders. Dr Sanders also runs the Postgraduate Bi-Annual Sex Work Conference at the University Of Leeds (please let this be an annual event!).

Our day out is based on the informal peer community that we have developed, and is a strand of me trying to build a ‘nicer academia’. You know, one which encourages people to thrive, understands disability and difference, and vows to pay it forward. I wrote Girl on Fire: Conferences Peer Support and a Fire in the Bellyand for me personally conferences, symposiums, events, informal meetings and support and invaluable.

I am lucky in that I am incredibly sociable and confident for an anxious introvert but it really does cost nothing to be kind. Strong research communities also defy space and place meaning those working off campus/ in another country/ caring for children or relatives/ coping with health issues can still be involved and feel included. I say it all the time: send that link, recommend that book, tweet that conference. It can make someone’s life a lot easier. It is also benefits yourself, the person you forwarded that call for papers to is likely to fill you in on the guest editing gig, or the sessional lecturing post that crops up. And really, if you don’t want to support other researchers, why are you even in academia in the first place? Surely you want to share ideas and contribute to addressing issues of social injustice with a strong cohort at your side?

This is something I feel incredibly strongly about. We can change academia and make it a better place (no songs inserted here please). Neo-liberal agendas and corporate cultures are hard to change, but adjustments and in-roads can be made.

Whilst it was incredible to present a paper at the British Sociological Society Annual Conference 2014 for example, I get so much from small events and informal meets. I like to meet my peers and see how we can help one another.

I am excited already for Blackpool, will be nice to catch up with friends new and old.

Please do submit for the Guest Edition of Graduate Journal of Social Science:
Blurred Lines: The Contested Nature of Sex Work in a Changing Social Landscape.
This is being co-guest edited by Laura Connelly, Laura Jarvis-King and myself.

Or attend the sessions Emily and I are convening at the Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference 2014, Researching Sexed Spaces: (Re)Imagining the Researcher and (Re)Discovering the ‘Other’ in Understanding Lived Experiences of Exclusion (Sponsored by the Space, Sexualities & Queer Research Group)