SEX. The word alone unleashes a range of emotions, meanings, and ideas. (Almost) every human being has sex. Sex is a natural act and has a biological function, but is also an experience bound with intimacy and feelings. It is a physical act, and as such concerns the various senses that unbridle a host of emotions and meanings. Sexual encounters are about reproduction, but they are also about pleasure and excitement. Sex is about togetherness and partnership, but it can also be about power, dominance, and involve (un)appreciated pain and violence. It defines our relations with others, yet it is also a personal experience. As Hastings Donnan and Fiona Magowan (2010: 1) succinctly stated: ‘The anthropology of sex is also the anthropology of religion, economics, politics, kinship, and human rights’. As such it is the perfect topic for anthropological research.

In this upcoming issue of Etnofoor, we invite authors to write about sex. As Gayle Rubin said: ‘The belly’s hunger gives no clues as to the complexities of cuisine’ (1984: 276). We draw from this provoking thought and invite authors to analyse the various norms that define sex. This entails investigating sex as a phenomenon that is marked by rules, stigmas, and taboos, or as an experience infused with ideas about (ab)normality and what is permitted and/or forbidden. But we also encourage authors to understand the physicality of sex by, for example, asking how do we do it, with whom, and from what age onwards? When do we stop having sex? And how have sexual practices changed over time? This last question is particularly pertinent in our increasingly digital age. A plethora of pornography sites are just one click away. How has digitized communication influenced sexual encounters and sex-lives? How do apps like Tinder shape the way in which we find sexual partners? 

We can also think about the relationship between sex and financial exchanges as, for example, studies on sex work and sex tourism have shown us. How can such work also constitute expressions of independence, emancipation, and freedom? And what happens when such exchanges are forced upon someone? In some cases, studying sex entails studying the powerless; those who become the victim of human traffickers or are forced to commodify their bodies. In other cases sex is associated with illness – sometimes sex can even be lethal. We welcome inputs to reflect on these darker sides of sexual encounters. 

Another line of inquiry could be the nexus between sex and doing ethnography. How can we research sex, a topic often hidden and private, through participant observation? Although not so openly discussed, ethnographic fieldwork is filled with sexual encounters (Kulick and Wilson 2003; Martin and Haller 2019). It is not uncommon for ethnographers to engage in sexual relationships with individuals that originate from ‘field sites’ or even (and ethically more problematic) their research participants. How do these encounters and relationships shape the way in which data is collected, analysed, and perceived? And to what extent are anthropologists reflexive of such sexual experiences in relation to and with others? 

Etnofoor invites authors that engage with these issues, either in the form of an ethnographic case study and/or from a methodological or theoretical perspective, to submit an abstract of no more than 200 words to editors@etnofoor.nl before March 1, 2020. The deadline for authors of accepted abstracts to submit their full papers is June 1, 2020.