Monday, 29 June 2009

The nature of research

It has come to my attention that some participants have taken offense to the questions asked in my survey. This is actually completely understandable, given that I am an unknown entity, and my intentions must also appear somewhat vague. As such this is a concern that I think needs addressing.

A few seem to be under the impression that I'm attempting to assert that interest in Kemetic religion is a result of exposure to popular culture, in a way which they find, understandably, derogatory. I want to assure you that this is not the case at all, and that my hypothesis is rather the opposite of this.

Rather, I am looking at the ways in which ancient Egyptian religion is utilised in the construction of contemporary identity and community, in the hope that it is not dismissed as the result of, for instance, 'too much Stargate'. There is no intention to draw parallels between Kemetic groups and pop culture fads, as this would be dismissive and insulting, which is not my intention at all. However, I hope that you all understand that in the interest of a thorough approach these questions must be asked, especially if such assumptions are to be countered.

It is not my intent to insult my participants (this would be counter productive after all), but equally I cannot control who gets insulted by the study, especially when sensitive matters, such as faith and politics, are being dealt with.

I hope that participants understand that these questions are meant to inspire well thought answers to my research questions and as such it is very difficult to use neutral language when approaching topics which can be very personal for some people. Other questions are intentionally left 'open' to interpretation as this has proved very successful for many ethnographic practitioners. All the themes have been deemed significant to aspects of the research, but if you feel uncomfortable with any of them, simply skip them.

Every effort is being taken to ensure that my study is fair and comprehensive, and please understand that I'm under as much (if not more) scrutiny as anybody. I have to answer the questions of various boards that I answer to, and as such I'll sometimes have to ask questions which seem provocatory. If these insult, I heartily apologise, but in a way, at least you're giving me the reserch I need to help counter Egyptological insularity.

I'm grateful to you all, individual and community, and hope that our relationship is a fruitful pleasant one,

Very best, with no scary secret agendas,


Monday, 22 June 2009

Questions: The Survey

Here is the link for the current survey which pertains to my research. Please copy and paste the following url into the address bar and press enter:

Once completed the survey will be automatically emailed to me. You do not have to disclose any personally identifiable information, though I do request an email address, should I wish to contact you. This, however, is left at your discretion. See below for details on how your privacy is protected.

Should you wish to skip a question, simply input the word 'pass' in the text box. This will allow you to complete without answering the question.

You may save and return to the survey (should you wish to finish it later) or even submit multiple versions, should your answers change, or anything pertinent occur to you.

Thank you kindly for your time, your interest and efforts are appreciated.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Introduction - The Research

This research is an exploration of modern approaches to ancient Egyptian religion. It involves some first hand ethnographic work, in which I ask questions of the modern faithful and practicing. These are constructed in an attempt to better understand the continued appeal of ancient Egyptian religion, and also the ways in which Egyptian religion is being used in the construction of identity, personal empowerment and social interaction. It is a non-judgemental study, and does not seek to undermine any faiths in favour of others.

Below is a disclosure sheet which includes some brief information on the work, my identity, institution, and finally your rights, which include an opt-out at any point. There is currently no need for legal waivers as the data will be anonymous, and I will be the only person to hold any record of our conversations.

If you are still interested in answering some questions you may be assured by your own anonymity in the project. I ask that you provide a web handle or nickname that I might attribute any quotes, should I need to use them in the thesis.

Please see the link above if you are interested in partaking of the study. The link is to an online survey form that you can fill in at your leisure, save and come back to if needs be. Alternatively, you may contact me directly should you have any questions. I hope that you will find the research both interesting and original, and a positive experience to be a part of, should you choose.

What is the project - Legal notes

This work seeks to address a gap in current Egyptological learning. The project aims to study the survival of Egyptian religion and esoterica, encompassing modern alternative faiths that have a focus or emphasis on Egyptian iconography and religion.

The research attempts to understand the appeal and uses of Egypt as a focus for faith, identity and social interaction. It is the appeal of Egypt itself which is at question, rather than the practices themselves. It is not an exercise in value judgements, and does not set out to discredit alternative religions or their practitioners. The work is aimed at adults only. If you are not of the age of consent of your country, state, area etc. then you cannot consent to participate, sorry.

Who is the research being undertaken by?

The research is undertaken by P. Michael Harrison MA, of University College London, as part of the thesis to be submitted for the title of PhD in Egyptian Archaeology. The college is fully aware of the research and it is sanctioned by the department, The Institute of Archaeology, UCL. I have been involved with the study of Egypt and alternative religions for over ten years, and has undertaken formal training in ethical procedures for research involving ethnographic study.

What are my rights if I choose to participate?

Involvement is voluntary. You have the right to opt in, and opt out, at any stage. If you do opt out then any direct quotes will be removed from the study.

Can I be idenitified from this research?

Only if you want to be. All data will be partially-anonymous. That is to say that, whilst I may have contact details for you I will not ask for personally identifiable information, nor will I present any personally identifiable information in the work. The only exception to this is the use of quotes, for which I may ask permission to use a ‘web handle’ or nickname, so that it may be assigned. I may also ask for group affiliation to be identifiable in some instances, and only with the permission of the host group. If I do not ask for such permissions then you should consider your data non-group affiliated and representative only of your opinions. You are free to deny such permissions, and will not be excluded from the research even if you wish to remain completely anonymous whilst taking part. Your privacy is of highest priority.

What do I have to do?

If you choose to participate in the research I will send you further information regarding the work itself and a survey involving questions related to your faith and practices, and your perceptions of Egypt in general. Except in rare cases, all interviews and surveys will take place over the internet, by email or on your specific faith’s host website, with their permission.

What will I be asked?

You will only be asked for information that the researcher feels is relevant to the study. This may include non-identifiable sensitive information such as religious beliefs, political stance and even ethnicity, but all answers should be considered voluntary.

Where will this research appear?

The research is currently for my own records only. It should be noted that derivatives of the work, such as a completed thesis including original quotes, are occasionally published. Should this occur, no personally identifiable information will be revealed.