Sex-industry research is fraught with biased assumptions, flawed methodology and lousy ethics. There are exceptions, but they are scarce, including from the academic side. It now seems long ago that activists pushed the idea of PAR – participatory action research – as a way to get people being researched (in the passive sense) involved actively as subjects. PAR isn’t mentioned so often now, but its new incarnation is – community-based research. In both, ideas for research are meant to be generated by subjects themselves, by people outsiders often consider either toconstitute a social problem or to be so disempowered they cannot help themselves and others need to do it for them – a fundamental tenet of the Rescue Industry.
Some people think only the most formal investigation qualifies as research – the scholarly or scientific. Others say the investigation has to be systematic. Is the goal to establish facts or to collect information? In the world of social science, the notion of facts is hard to sustain. A conversation in a café can sometimes be research. On the other hand I don’t believe it’s useful to just call everything research, and there’s a research tag in the cloud to the right precisely because so much stuff calling itself research is bad in any of a number of ways.
This year I am editing a journal called Research for Sex Work, which is published by the NSWP (Network of Sex Work Projects). I have always liked this journal because it is a hybrid: not technically academic at all but using peer review, and the priority is on articles written by sex workers themselves. I have myself published several times in the journal, and they are pieces that have been translated and republished often. Here is the Call for Papers just published; please distribute to your networks.
Research for Sex Work is seeking contributions for its next issue, on HIV and Sex Work. This international journal provides a platform for the exchange of ideas, experiences and research results on the subject of sex work in a framework of health and human rights.
We give priority to submissions from sex workers – individuals and groups. Although it’s not an academic journal, we do send articles out for review, to achieve the highest possible quality and credibility amongst policymakers. Most readers and authors come from sex worker groups, support organisations, HIV prevention projects, local and international NGOs, universities, research institutes. The journal aims for coverage of all geographical regions.
We welcome three types of writing : 1- research results, 2- project or programme descriptions and 3- think pieces. Submissions must be in English, but don’t worry if yours is not perfect – we will edit. Maximum length is 1200 words.
If you have an article idea or a question, write to the editor, Laura Agustín, at R4SW.Editor[at]nswp.org by 7 July 2012.
Finished articles will be due 1 August 2012, and authors will need to be available by email to answer questions and make corrections over the following month or so.
We also are looking for high-resolution photos for which you own the rights. Write first to describe them to R4SW.Editor[at]nswp.org.
This edition will be bilingual: English/Chinese.
Here you can find a history of the journal and see earlier editions.
–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist