Dr Gemma Commane

Lecturer in Media and Communications

Birmingham School of Media
0121 331 5712

Dr Gemma Commane is a Lecturer in Media and Communications, and an active researcher in the fields of media and cultural studies, and gender and sexuality. Gemma’s academic background is in Media and Cultural Studies, with a BA in Communication, Culture and Media (Coventry University, 2005) and an MA in Continental Philosophy (University of Warwick, 2006). Gemma’s PhD (awarded by University of Kent in 2012) was a sociological and ethnographic enquiry into female sexual identity in burlesque, fetish and BDSM clubbing cultures.

She is committed to social and cultural change and was part of the research team for CITISPYCE (funded by the EU Seventh Framework Programme) at Aston University in 2015. Her research interests focus on contemporary cultural studies, gender and sexuality, queer studies, dirt and stigma, burlesque striptease and queer performance art, the pornography debate, alternative femininities and ethnography. She is currently working on several areas of research, specifically: bad girls and dirty bodies, queering sexualities and protest, ethnography and affective research, and ‘Kinktrepreneurship, Sexwork and Social Media.’

Gemma is a reviewer for the Journal of Youth Studies, SAGE Open, YOUNG Nordic Journal of Youth Research, SQS-Journal (Finland Queer Studies Association Journal), and Health, Risk & Society. Gemma has also reviewed books, including a review of Katrien Jacobs’ book ‘The afterglow of women’s pornography in post-digital china,’ for Sexualities. She is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a member of MeCCSA and the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA).

Areas of Expertise
  •          Alternative Femininities
  •          Burlesque Striptease, Performance Art, Clubbing Cultures
  •          Dirt, Disgust and Othering  
  •          BDSM, Fetish and Kink
  •          Cultural Studies
  •          Body Modification
  •          Subcultures and Deviancy
  •          Gender, Sexuality, Queer Studies
  •          Ethnography and Qualitative Research
  •          Emotions, Positionality, Reflexivity  

2015 – PgCert, Academic Practice in Higher Education (Distinction, Coventry University)

2012 – PhD, Media and Cultural Studies (University of Kent)

2006 – MA, Continental Philosophy (University of Warwick)

2005 – 1st Class BA (Hons.) Communication, Culture and Media Studies (Coventry University)

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
  • MeCCSA
  • European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA)

Gemma teaches theory on the BA (board course) in Media and Communications, and also supervises a range of PhD research projects on the Media and Cultural Studies PhD programme. 


Gemma’s current research includes:

  •          The political potential of ‘kinky’ / subversive pro-sex and pro-women protests.
  •          Kinktrepreneurship, sex work and social media.  
  •          ‘Other’ women and flexibly-queer communities of difference.
  •          The concept of the ‘bad’ girl.  
  •          The ethics of ethnography.
  •          Sexuality and positionality in ethnographic research.

Gemma is currently working on a proposal for her monograph ‘Bad Girls and Dirty Bodies.’ 

Postgraduate Supervision

Gemma currently supervises doctoral students across of a range of topics related to gender, sexuality, identity, communities and youth. 

Gemma is keen to attract students who wish to work on projects related to sexualities and sexual cultures (sexual deviancy, queer, LGBTQ+, kink and BDSM), BDSM / Kink / Fetish communities, neo-burlesque and body modification, risk and deviancy, subcultures and youth cultures, queer studies, porn studies and urban ethnography.


Commane, Gemma and Potton, Bex (2016/7) ‘Instagram and Auschwitz: a critical assessment of the impact social media has on Holocaust representation,' in Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History, (forthcoming)

Commane, Gemma (2016) ‘Temporary Reflexive Disempowerment: working through fieldwork ethnography and its impact on a female researcher’ in ‘The Subcultural Imagination: Theory, Research and Reflexivity in Youth Cultures,’ eds Shane Blackman and Michelle Kempson, Routledge, 108-122

Commane, Gemma Ruth (2010) ‘Bad Girls and Dirty Bodies: Performative Histories and Transformative Styles,’ in ‘Queering Paradigms,’ ed. Burkhard Scherer, Peter Lang, 49-64 

Blackman, Shane and Commane, Gemma Ruth (2011) ‘Double reflexivity: the politics of friendship, fieldwork and representation within ethnographic studies of young people’ in Innovations in Youth Research,’ eds. S. Heath and C. Walker,London, Palgrave, 229-246

Online reports:

CITISPYCE, The Loft Case Study Report (2015): http://www.citispyce.eu/sites/default/files/6%20Birmingham_The%20Loft.pdf

CITISPYCE, Beatfreeks Case Study Report (2015): http://www.citispyce.eu/sites/default/files/5%20Birmingham_Beatfreeks.pdf



Durham University: Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexuality, July 2016. Title of paper ‘Against Erasure: reflections on researcher positionality, sexuality and stigma in ethnographic research.’

University of Turku: Media History Archives, March 2015.

University of Turku: The International Institute for Popular Culture (IIPC) Debate (https://iipcblog.wordpress.com/), March 2015.

Office for National Statistics: Annual Conference, January 2015. Title of paper: ‘The Value of Ethnography in Re-presenting Agency, Voice and Complexity when Researching Sexed-Spaces.’

Conference activity:

For a comprehensive list of conference presentations please see: https://gemmacommane.wordpress.com/conference-activity/

Links and Social Media