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Intro and Invite
VLDRobertson
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Post: #1
Intro and Invite
Hi all,
I am a researcher at the University of Sydney, Australia, writing my PhD thesis on other-than-human identity. I have been researching and writing about the Otherkin community for several years now, and would like to engage some Otherkin in discussion. I have a survey to distribute to willing participants, and following this, I would be grateful to any individuals who would consent to ongoing interviews.

You might see this invitation posted on other forums - I'm doing the rounds!

Feel free to email me at <!-- e --><a href="mailto:venetia.robertson@sydney.edu.au">venetia.robertson@sydney.edu.au</a><!-- e --> if you would like to be sent a survey, or if you have any questions.

Thanks for having me <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->
2013-03-23 4:40
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Seraphyna
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Post: #2
Re: Intro and Invite
Welcome <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile --> I've seen you poking around on a few forums now. It's pretty quiet around here, but a bunch of us still pop in here and there, so I'm not sure you'll get anyone new here, but who knows.

[Image: seraphyna11_zps47e1e313.png]
"All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost."-Tolkien
"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream."-Poe
2013-03-23 17:08
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Chordal
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Post: #3
Re: Intro and Invite
If it would be all right to reply to you here instead of over private email (I realize it's possible that, given all the different fora for which you've signed up, you might not check directly back here), I have a few questions...

In the absence of other information, I did Google your name, and from the sydney.academia.edu page, it seems that your studies relate back to religion? If this is so, how (in your view) are otherkin/therian phenomena or identities linked (or not linked) to religion? In your thought, is the link always there? If not, are you interested in hearing voices which diverge from a view which associates otherkin/therian phenomena with religion? I see your BA was a double major in History and Religion. Did you complete a Master's prior to pursuing a Ph.D? If so, in what discipline?

Are you interested in hearing voices which are not therianthropic in nature? I see matters relating to popular culture, therianthropy, soulbonding, and what appears to be furry fandom, on the sydney.academia.edu page (I haven't yet looked within any of the papers, however) -- I don't yet see material relating to people of a tack such as myself.

I'd be interested in seeing your level of skepticism or distance from the matter -- for example, OKP (Otherkin Phenomena, this forum) is a forum which is known in otherkin circles for being somewhat skeptical of things such as confirmation bias (which is, as I understand it, where one sees what one is looking for because one is looking for it, and dismisses data which contraindicate what one is looking for because one wants to rationally back up what they believe). I don't speak for everyone here, but in my own case, I believe what I have little choice but to believe; that doesn't mean I can't question it.

The final question that I can think of at this time (I'm cutting this short because I can really go on for a while...no really) is the question of why you're into what you're into. As I said earlier, I haven't yet read any of your online writings; however, I'm a little wary of outsiders lumping pop culture, therianthropy, soulbonding, and furries together with otherkin. The last four can be considered different, but overlapping, communities (depending on whom you talk to). In my case, I'm a bit concerned about a "sensationalizing" angle, which is part of why I have not written to you directly from my own email account.

The topic of sensationalization of marginalized cultures gets into professional ethics. I've seen people coming by in various communities I've been a part of, wanting to do studies before; they were not always respectful of forum members in, for example, what they chose to quote from forum members' writings, without gaining permission from said forum members. Not all of these quotations were drawn from a time *after* said researcher gained entry to the forum, meaning that words intended for a relatively small audience of peers were suddenly and retroactively published in someone's research paper (essentially for personal gain), and forum members have been told (by said researcher, in the case I'm thinking of) that they can't do anything about it. These are shoddy ethics. It's granted that work posted online would seem to be public domain (though I've never actually researched this, as I've never quoted anyone's electronic communications online for an academic paper), however it is not conducive to ongoing friendly relations to quote without at least attempting to gain permission. I'd hope you wouldn't be one of these types of researchers, though I realize I have little say in the matter.

In my own case, I'm curious about participating in your project, but at the same time I happen to be wary enough not to divulge an email address. If you'd like, you can respond to this post, should you check for it, via PM to me; or you could post in this thread. Basically, the reason I'm interested in participating is that I think that it could help me work out some of my own dishevelment as regards my thoughts about myself. The otherkin topic is only very rarely broached in my spoken life -- I generally only write or speak frankly and openly about it in forums such as this, or in situations where it behooves me to divulge a very personal narrative.

If you're interested, get back to me; we can take it from there.

P.S. Welcome to the forum, by the way <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->
2013-03-24 7:04
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Elinox
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Post: #4
Re: Intro and Invite
Welcome to OKP, I hope you find our forum useful for your research. All we ask is that you credit any information you use from us please.

Also, did you get my survey answers I sent you earlier in March?

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"You're the best kind of crazy." -Murphy, The Dresden Files
2013-03-25 13:13
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VLDRobertson
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Post: #5
Re: Intro and Invite
Hi Chordal,

thanks for such a long message! I will attempt to answer everything.

I did my degree at the University of Sydney, and yes, majored in History (mostly ancient) and Religious Studies. I did not do an MA, but skipped ahead to a PhD (as is becoming quite common). My thesis does look at Otherkin and Therianthropy and also bio-hacking through a 'religious' lens, but religion in my discipline is a very far reaching term, encompassing any kind of metaphysical beliefs and existential concerns. My thesis more specifically deals with ontology, the concept of identity, and how this might be influenced by things like popular culture, different spiritual ideas, the internet, etc.
I am always interested in hearing different perspectives, so if you're interested in attempting the survey you're more than welcome to - I will require an email address to reach you however, in order to send you the survey and the ethics clearance document. It does ask questions about spirituality, but I would love to read answers whether they're from a religious perspective or not.

I'm not sure how to respond to your question about skepticism, and I don't know enough about this particular forum to understand how/why it is known for its skepticism.

Why am I into what I'm into? Hmmm. Well, in my opinion academia should be about sharing knowledge, and the kind of stuff that tickles my fancy also seems to be stuff that hardly anyone else is writing about. So, I love having the opportunity to investigate new things, theorise about why they are important, and educate others. My interests are usually in 'fringe' cultures or subcultures: fandoms, alternative spirituality, new religious movements etc. As someone with no religious background, I find this stuff more engaging than 'mainstream' manifestations of religion.

I wont be taking any quotes from the closed/members only sections of any forums. However, that is of course where so much of the 'meat' for these studies would potentially come from. That is what the surveys are for - to allow people to volunteer that information freely (and anonymously) to me. That way the quotes I do end up using are not directly traceable to anywhere online.

If you would like to participate in the survey shoot me an email at <!-- e --><a href="mailto:venetia.robertson@sydney.edu.au">venetia.robertson@sydney.edu.au</a><!-- e -->. You are of course welcome to see it and turn it down, or answer selectively, no pressure <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

Thanks for the welcome!
2013-03-26 10:37
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VLDRobertson
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Post: #6
Re: Intro and Invite
Elinox Wrote:Welcome to OKP, I hope you find our forum useful for your research. All we ask is that you credit any information you use from us please.

Also, did you get my survey answers I sent you earlier in March?

Hi Elinox - yes I did, many thanks!
2013-03-26 10:37
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Chordal
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Post: #7
Re: Intro and Invite
Hi,

I sent you a message from one of my addresses, earlier tonight. Thank you for your response! It makes it easier to know you aren't a troll <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

VLDRobertson Wrote:I'm not sure how to respond to your question about skepticism, and I don't know enough about this particular forum to understand how/why it is known for its skepticism.
I'm not around on a lot of otherkin forums...basically I'm here because of a couple of personal connections, plus having gotten to know other members. So when I'm talking about the reputation of this place, it's something to bear in mind...

This forum is known for being "not-fluffy" in its approach to otherkin identity. I've been around in Pagan circles online enough to be able to kind of understand what "fluffiness" means on an intuitive level. If you've been interested in Ceremonial Magick, you may also have run across the terminology; but it's been so long since I've been interested in stuff like Thelema and Chaos Magick that I can't entirely recall if they had the same concept.

Anyhow. Fluff. Fluff -- loosely speaking -- happens when someone believes something without justification and/or doesn't think through their beliefs, and/or believes something that is outright and obviously wrong and wants/needs everyone else to believe it with them or act like they do (these types generally will not accept that their beliefs are unsupported by facts, and often they will attack people who point out that their beliefs are unsupported by facts). There are likely other situations where the concept could apply, and there are likely situations for which one or more of the above is true which wouldn't automatically be fluff -- but these are three which spring to mind immediately. This forum is known for having members which will question other members in an attempt to get them to think through their beliefs more thoroughly. Because of this, OKP's gained a reputation for being "elitist" (or so I've heard)...because it isn't a given that all members will accept everything anyone says (or pretend they do).

I can see clearly that it wasn't clear what kind of a response I was hoping for in my initial post to you, when I said this:

Chordal Wrote:I'd be interested in seeing your level of skepticism or distance from the matter(...)
I think that I was mainly hoping that there would be some level of criticality in review of survey respondents' submissions...not really being in respondents' faces about it (as that would skew survey results), but not necessarily accepting everything anyone says at face value just because they said it. For example, we have run across some God-kin, which is normally fine, so long as they realize that while in interaction here, they are technically just another person. When they start demanding that they be treated as Gods, however, that's a different story.

In my own (subjective) world, there is a clear difference between the reality I experience, and the way I understand or make sense of that reality. Reality-as-experienced cannot be changed, or such is my working hypothesis. Reality-as-understood is both 1) likely to be an incorrect understanding from the beginning, and 2) holds different implications depending on what explanatory model is posited. In my case, I off-and-on understand myself to be coming from a place that somewhere in my psyche is called "demonic". Because of my background, I have quite a different understanding of "demonic" than, say, a Christian would -- almost necessarily so, given that I was demonized by the Christian Right for years because of my gender presentation and (inferred from that) my supposed sexual orientation. This is furthered by the fact that I was involved online in Satanism and Demonolatry groups for a good chunk of my young adulthood, until I got sick of seeing the same types of people in these groups, and the same battles, and the same ideologies, and the same toleration of bigotry, over and over again, and really relatively very little information or participation on the level of "why are we all here?"

Basically "fluffy" (and "spikey", in the Satanist community) are terms for people who don't think through their beliefs; on this forum, there's kind of an implicit agreement that it would be beneficial to do so, if only because we've seen the effects of not doing it. <!-- sWink --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Wink" /><!-- sWink -->

But I should probably save this for the questionnaire, eh? I can send excerpts of this to you if you need it for your records...
2013-03-27 5:56
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VLDRobertson
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Post: #8
Re: Intro and Invite
Hi Chordal,

thanks for that in depth response! I'm acquainted with the term 'fluffy' although I've never heard 'spikey' before - very interesting!

Anyway, I understand what you're getting at, and that's fine. The purpose of the surveys is to try and get a range of opinions, and because they're private, hopefully people can feel free from any social pressures from their peers (be they IRL or online).

If you could send me the above in an email with your permission to use it in my thesis I would be very grateful - it's a very useful explication of terms and concepts.

Cheers <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->
2013-04-01 4:40
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