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UBC Theses and Dissertations

If sex is your work-- : Reflections on collaborative research in Thailand Demusz, Kerry Lee


This thesis is a discussion of collaborative research methodologies devised for undertaking research within an organizational context with sex workers in Thailand's northern city of Chiangmai. It is a discussion of how the strategies were derived, the context they were derived for and how they played themselves out, "on the ground." It provides an overview of the literature on the commercial sex industry in Thailand and a more detailed account of the current situation in Chiangmai. It also provides details about how the collaborative partner in this research, a Thai non-governmental organization called EMPOWER, seeks to work within this context. The main discussion in the thesis revolves around how the issues of voice, consent and power melded together to act as a brake on the research process. It also highlights the importance of these issues in terms of undertaking research with women in this setting. Within this context, considerations for collaborative research projects with sex workers are outlined, the tensions between research and activism and elicited and how the issues of consent, voice and power played themselves out on the ground, is discussed. Rather than simply criticizing the process of speaking about "others" and working collaboratively, suggestions for possible future projects are offered as a base from which to move forward. ii It is my hope that this document will add to the expanding literature on women's experience of doing research in the field and their considerations in doing research on not only an academic level but also on an emotive level, in order that the research process can be better understood as well as more considerate of it's "subjects."

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