Thesis Requests

Just a quick post to help a couple members of the community. Just as I normally get a lot of media requests and post those, these are geared more towards higher education and helping specific members of the community with their degrees!

Hi, my name is Alisha Gauvreau and I am a fourth-year Anthropology student at Laurentian University. As an anthropologist, I study human variation and adaptation, both currently and through time. I also study the central concept of anthropology, which is culture. Culture consists of all behaviour which is learned and transmitted to new members of a group.

As a member of the body modification community, I have always been fascinated by our culture and the various rituals practiced by many members of this important community. Of particular interest is the practice of body suspension and I have had the opportunity to observe suspensions and flesh pulls. Although there is historic information about body suspension among the Mandan and Lakota First Nations people in North America, I have yet to find any academic documentation about this practice in contemporary North America. Thus, I decided to document it.

For my fourth-year university thesis, I am studying suspension as practiced by members of the body modification community in Canada. The primary purposes of this research are:

  • Documentation of the subculture of body suspension in Canada.
  • Documentation of the ritual aspects of body suspension.
  • Documentation of the physiological and psychological aspects of body suspension.
  • Education of medical practitioners about the physiological and psychological effects of body suspension.
  • A cross cultural comparison of body suspension in Canada with other groups who have been documented to practice body suspension — for example, the Mandan and Dakota people of North America.
  • Education of the general public about body suspension.
  • Helping to eliminate misconceptions and ethnocentric viewpoints about body suspension.
  • Practical applications for the health care community and for other public agencies.

I am currently recruiting individuals who are interested in being interviewed about their perspectives and experiences with respect to body suspension. If you are thinking about suspending, have suspended only once, or have suspended numerous times, then you are eligible to participate in this important research. I have transportation and am willing to travel so I can conduct face-to-face interviews. Telephone interviews are also an option. Participation in my research is entirely voluntary and all data is kept confidential. If you chose to participate, we will both sign a form agreeing to the aforementioned terms. Permission forms for telephone interviews will be handled by fax.

If you are interested in participating please contact me at:

Alisha and her friend, Ivan.

The second one comes from another student working on her thesis as well. She’s created an online survey but did not include a photo of herself for me to run some Photoshop filters on and water mark.

“I want to hear your story!

I’m a graduate student with the UCCS sociology department and I’m working on my masters thesis on non-mainstream body modification.

That’s where you come in! (In other words, I need fabulous bodies to study!)

I’m particularly interested in hearing from those of you with “extreme” body modifications/practices, but Mods of all sorts are welcome to participate, of course.

If you’re interested in helping me out please follow this link to take the survey (easier than a DIY job during a 3am power outage, right?)

Tell me your body’s story!

If you have questions, please contact me at

Thank you!”


If you’ve got the time, please take a moment to help out!

7 thoughts on “Thesis Requests

  1. Hey BME-ers!
    I just wanted to thank everyone who has taken time out of their busy lives to complete my survey. I haven’t yet read through all of the responses, but what I have read so far has had a profound effect on me–not just the number of responses to the survey overall, but also your willingness to share your stories. I greatly appreciate it. Several people have expressed interest in reading the completed paper when it’s done. I would be thrilled to provide it to those of you who have requested it, but I wanted to let you know that the entire thesis probably won’t be completed until next summer. Maybe earlier if I caffeinate more, but I’m not making any promises :) Keep ‘em coming! And thank you all!
    PS: Good luck to Alisha with her research endeavors. I’d like to read that one when it’s done!

  2. Hola soy un modificador corporal de madrid (españa) la verdad es que conozco desde hace años B M E y siempre me he sentido atraido por lo ritual, llevo varios intentos de conseguir un i am para colocar mis trabajos, he mandado muchas fotos pero no hay manera de hacerlas llegar, os mande varias, pero ni las habeis puesto ni me habeis mandado, ninguna respuesta, por favor me gustaria tener una respuesta que me aclare esta situacion, os agradeciria respuesta, gracias por vuestro tiempo.

  3. UPDATE:

    I finally obtained permission from the L.U. ethics board to gather data via email. If you are interested in participating in my study, but would prefer to fill out an email version of the questionnaire rather than being interviewed in person, this is now an option. Please contact me A.S.A.P. to pursue this option.

    In addition, my study now covers both Canadian and American participation in Body Suspension. I will likely be pursuing this research on a global scale once I am at the graduate level.

    Also, I would like to apologize to those that had contacted me and did not receive an immediate response. In early September my family was faced with some horrible news regarding my mother’s medical condition. Dealing with this set me back a little bit, but I am now back on track.

    Lastly, a special thank you to everyone that has contacted me directly, and taken the time out of their busy lives to sit down and chat about this fascinating practice!

    I am still seeking additional participants to “beef up” my database, feel free to contact me at

    Thanks again BME!

  4. Wow, wow, and WOW!! Again, I am just so gratified and humbled by the response and contributions of BME-ers to my thesis research on nonmainstream body modification. I’ve received an overwhelming response to the questionnaire over the past couple of months. My initial goal when I struck out on this adventure was to collect 75 completed surveys. Well, I’m very near that goal and I’m very excited! Which is why I wanted to post another note–I’m just not ready to let this go. There are too many funny, insightful, and profoundly personal stories out there to cut this thing short. My Institutional Review Board (IRB) research protocol approval through the University of Colorado is valid until September 24, 2009. So, with the BME moderators’ permission, I’d very much like to keep the survey link live and active for as long as they’ll let me. For this thesis, specifically, I’ll use any completed surveys that post as of midnight (MST) on December 21, 2008. I would like to use any surveys that come in after that date for future academic research. In other words, and with BME’s stamp of approval, KEEP THOSE QUESTIONNAIRES COMING, PEOPLE!! And thanks again for your candid, intelligent insights into this important topic. I am truly grateful to all of you who have shared your story with me, and I look forward to reading more.

  5. Pingback: The Anthropology (and Sociology) of Body Modification at Jason C. Romero’s Website

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