Queering Fieldwork in Religion
Exploring Life-Stories with Non-Normative Christians Online
Keywords:Christianity, identity, non-normative, online, queer theory
Scholars undertaking fieldwork in religion and theology engage on a practical level with participants/communities in order to understand religion as a living phenomenon. This article engages with queer theory as an approach to exploring the faith lives of non-normative Christians, by engaging with online communities. The article sets out the benefits and risks in terms of conducting such research in this way. Mobilizing queer theory is a challenging approach to research, as it questions established norms. It raises suspicions about what is perceived as normal and contests such perceptions by exploring those excluded. As queer is categorized by rupture to the “normal”, it serves as a catalyst to disrupt normative, established modes of research. Traditionally, fieldwork has often privileged notions of objectivity, emphasizing the role of the researcher in codified terms of neutrality. In the spirit of rupture, I offer personal and professional reflections on my ethnographic endeavours. The final section of this article discusses the subjective role of the researcher, noting how the positionality of the researcher can be a site of conflict.
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