1st Edition

A Feminist Approach to Sensitive Research Designing the Clay Embodiment Research Method

By Tricia Ong Copyright 2023
    124 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores the development and implementation of the Clay Embodiment Research Method (CERM) with one of the most stigmatized, oppressed, and marginalized groups of women in Nepal: sex-trafficked women.

    It argues for the use of a feminist approach to such research given the prevailing patriarchal norms, cultural sensitivity of reproductive health, stigmatization of sex trafficking, and low literacy of the women involved. Beginning with an exploration of the author’s relationship with Nepal and the women who guide the study, and the realization that a more accessible research approach was needed than the techniques otherwise commonly used, it discusses the use of clay and photography as ideal entry points to engaging with the women in the research and creating this ethical methodology for self-empowerment. Not only does the volume highlight extraordinary insights offered by the women involved in this study through the application of CERM, but also the recognition that its use requires expertise that can deal with the potential elicitation of trauma. The book makes the case for further study on improving the method’s use in research, education, and therapy involving low-literate, stigmatized, oppressed, and marginalized populations, particularly where cultural sensitivity is an important consideration.

    A Feminist Approach to Sensitive Research is suitable for students, scholars, and researchers in Gender Studies, Sociology, Health Studies, Anthropology, and Asian Studies.

    1. Introduction – being invited in; 2. The impact of patriarchy on women in Nepal: the vulnerability of sex trafficked women; 3. A feminist approach to sensitive research: the inspiration of critical ethnography and Participatory Action Research; 4. The development and implementation of the Clay Embodiment Research Method (CERM); 5. The ethical considerations of designing a new research method in a complex culture: Australian and Nepal perspectives; 6. The (im)practicalities of using clay in Nepal: mayhem and messiness; 7. The power of the Clay Embodiment Research Method: fun, fast, and dangerous; 8. Moving forward - Nepal and beyond.


    Dr. Tricia Ong is a Lecturer in Career Education and a member of the Deakin Research for Violence Against Women hub at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. This is her first book. She has published on the multiplicity of stigma of sex-trafficked women in Nepal, clay as a medium in three-dimensional body-mapping, and on the impact of patriarchal norms on young, sex-trafficked women in Nepal. She has also written non-academic articles on women’s reproductive health issues.