‘The Dangerous Thesis’
Dean Durber, University of Tasmania
If academic research demands the position of a subject, can this position and this subject remain unchanged by the topic of study?
This seminar addresses the problems involved in tackling dangerous material in a doctoral thesis with specific reference to the sexual. It is concerned with the malleability of the already sexualised subject as "he" engages in research into demonised and/or criminalised sexual behaviours and identities. As an academic, I am not immune to the possibility of being influenced as a result of my exposure to and involvement in non-normative (and often criminalised) desires. I change accordingly. I am affected by the desires and the pleasures I research. This change is both internal and external.
While drawing on personal experience of research into non-normative sexualised pleasures and behaviours, I discuss my academic position with reference to the wider culture's demand for confession of the sexual as it relates to the personal. Where the sexual politics of the counter culture movements have declared that the personal is political, I explore ways of disengaging the political from the personal. The political position I take in my research does not have to reflect who I am or who I wish to be.
Dean Durber has recently completed his doctoral thesis in the Department of Communication and Cultural Studies at Curtin University. He is currently teaching Gender Studies in the School of Philosophy at the University of Tasmania.