“You again – what are you researching this time?”

Can You Ever “Leave the Field”?


  • Kath Browne University of Brighton
  • Elizabeth Dinnie The James Hutton Institute




insider–outsider dynamics, positionality, researcher–participant dynamics, research fields


This article reflects on “going back” to the field as a researcher who has investigated the intersections of sexualities and spiritualities and occupying multiple and diverse positionalities in relation to research and researcher identities. It explores what it means to “go back” and “give back,” where the lines are permanently blurred between “participant” and “researcher” in particular spiritual spaces. We reflect on how sexualities are implicated in this process, as well as how spiritualities are enacted (or not) on return as a “non-researcher.” We look at what “matters” and what fails to matter through the themes of: being a (non) researcher; being known and unknown, and engaging spiritualities and sexualities. The article argues that “going back” is something that requires further exploration where pleasure and spirituality is found both in the experiences of the space itself and from undertaking research in these spaces.


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Author Biographies

Kath Browne, University of Brighton

Kath Browne is a reader at the University of Brighton. Her research interests encompass the areas of sexualities, gender, feminisms, queer, spiritualities and everyday lives. She has co-authored the book Queer Spiritual Spaces(Ashgate, 2010) and co-edited Queer Methods and Methodologies(Ashgate, 2010). She worked on the Count Me In Too research (www.countmeintoo.co.uk) from 2005–2010.

Elizabeth Dinnie, The James Hutton Institute

Elizabeth Dinnie is a qualitative social researcher at the James Hutton Institute (formerly Macaulay), Aberdeen with interests in (rural) community resilience, rural-urban conflict resolutions, climate change adaptation, and urban greenspace and well-being. She is currently researching rural community empowerment in Scotland, outdoor access management in the Cairngorms, and community resilience factors in adapting to climate change. In 2008 she was postdoctoral researcher on the Queer Spiritual Spaces project. Her case study explored LGB peoples’ experiences at the Findhorn spiritual community in Moray, Scotland.


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How to Cite

Browne, K., & Dinnie, E. (2013). “You again – what are you researching this time?”: Can You Ever “Leave the Field”?. Fieldwork in Religion, 7(2), 163–178. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.v7i2.163