Why does research matter? Who does it matter to? What is the significance and the impact of what we do? This conference will explore the many different ways that our research makes a difference.
There has been no scholarly attention examining the photographic portraits that sex workers post online. My doctorial research is an academic first and aims to provide a critical analysis of sex workers’ visual self-representation using a mixed methodological approach. This research matters beyond academia, it matters to the networked global sex working community that is fighting for the right to exist in online spaces. My research has the power to reshape the hegemonic visual representation that encourages the sense that the only way of interpreting their lives is to see them as ripe for ‘rescue’.
Visual arts-based research can be a form of and inform activism, this is imperative in times of censorship of transgressive sex cultures and the eviction of sex workers from the open internet. This necessitates academic research into user-generated visual data created by sex workers. The visual stereotyping through art, media and cinema acts as a blindfold that enables people to forget that sex workers are individual human beings like everyone else. Sex workers are now image-makers and have a voice of their own however photography is often dismissed as irrelevant and maliciously, perhaps dangerously, is used to silence the voices, actions, feelings, and rights of sex workers.