Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology
There is little to no research surrounding the experiences of queer, foreign-aid workers. To address this gap, a study was conducted to explore how compulsory heterosexuality affects the social construction of sexuality in societies where queer, foreign-aid workers serve and how this influences their identity negotiation and management processes. Participants consisted of ten self-identified queer, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), as well as, the researcher herself who also identifies as queer. Data was gathered through both semi-structured interviews and autoethnographic research. Meaning structuring through narratives was used to analyze the data. Analysis revealed that strategies of silencing, counterfeiting, and lying by omission were popular identity negotiation practices among participants, as well as relying on the heteronormative assumption. Additionally, data showed that compulsory heterosexuality played a major role in the social construction of sexuality where these queer volunteers served, as heteronormativity continues to be perpetuated and reinforced by various institutions, including the government, religion, education, social norms, and the media. Finally, it was found that the foreign-aid organization examined in the study "The Peace Corps" played a passive role in the negotiation and management strategies of its queer volunteers. Therefore, this study recommends that three practical steps be taken to better train and support future, queer Peace Corps Volunteers: (1) Sensitivity training for Peace Corps staff, (2) infusion of LGBT issues into volunteers' training sessions, (3) and creation and distribution of resources for queer volunteers.
Slisz, Kate Elizabeth, "Life is Calling...How Far Will You Go...Back in the Closet? Identity Negotiation and Management Among Queer, Peace Corps Volunteers" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 546.