Monthly Archives: July 2013

In the Field…Again

I’m back in the field. This is my fifth trip to research country. I have spent more than two years in the country if I add up all the summers and the year of field research I did here. Though, this trip is my first trip post dissertation. I must say it’s kind of amazing. Having now published an article in a journal and in an edited volume and having written my diss, I have a much better handle on what constitutes data and the threshold of evidence necessary to sustain my arguments. What that means for field work, is that I am not quite so stressed.

Doing dissertation field research was so anxiety filled. I didn’t know what constituted data or if what I was collecting would even be useful. I had no idea what I would or could do with it. I had no idea how much data I needed to write a whole diss. I was fumbling in the dark and it was nerve wracking. I just kept imagining returning to the US with inadequate data and sitting across from my advisor in her office explaining that I would not be able to write my diss. But that didn’t happen and I wrote the damn dissertation.

This time in the field, I have a filter. I know what’s important, what’s not important for my project. I know how I can write something up when I enter the situation or event. I have an idea for chapters in my book, and at this point I even know what data can fit where. So when I went to an event this past weekend, I thought, oh this will be perfect for chapter x on y topic. I dare say that fieldwork has actually become pleasant.

Finally, it has happened to me…

I just got a message from a colleague, someone who I presented on a panel with YEARS ago. S/he told me s/he was organizing a panel for Big Area Studies Conference next year and s/he wanted to know if I could participate. I just got an email from Area Studies Association about renewing my membership in anticipation for the big conference. While looking at the email, I thought, sigh! another conference where I’m going to have to beg, borrow, and steal to find a panel that fits. But finally, someone has had the idea to organize a panel, someone I know. And that someone, has thought to reach out to me and include me in the panel. I know that seems so small, even microscopic. But people so rarely think of me when organizing things. And I have been trying to change that by networking like crazy and organizing my fair share of panels. Perhaps if I had a larger ego I might think I am becoming known (even by a few), but really I think my networking has been paying off and the seeds I have planted are finally beginning to bear fruit.

Research Dream

I’m here in Foreign Country for field research for the summer. I had a crazy dream a couple of nights ago. I dreamt that I returned to the US for a conference. While I was sitting at the conference it dawned on me that I may not be able to return to research country because I have a single entry visa. Once I enter and leave, I can’t return for a period of several months. So, in my dream, I began to get nervous and I thought about all the things I still had to do: the interviews I needed to schedule, the other cities to travel to, etc. I thought maybe I should have asked the customs agent when I was leaving if I would be able to come back soon, and had they said no I just would not have taken my flight. I just remember a long period of worrying and a small panic that I had wasted another field research trip with a mistaken exit from the country.

And then I woke in research country safe and sound. I better put my research agenda in turbo drive. lol. Talk about a wake up call.

When are we “known” and how do we know?

This past academic year I went to six conferences. I think that’s a lot, but I actually enjoyed it. If I had the money to go to more I probably would. At the last conference of the academic year, I saw that a scholar whose work I was very familiar with would be there. I explicitly cited him in my paper when I gave my presentation. After the panel, he came up to me, and the first thing he said was, “Hi, you know, I have work out on your topic.” I was so happy to meet him, I sputtered, “Oh, I know. I cited you explicitly. I quoted your paper in big disciplinary fancy journal.” And then I flipped through my paper and found the quote. He said, “Oh, I left to go to the bathroom so maybe I missed it.  Sorry. So you’re at Big Midwestern University? Is Mr. Big Shot still there?” After I said that Mr. Big Shot was on leave, but should be coming back next year, he encouraged me to talk to Mr. Big Shot.

Looking back on that encounter, it just seemed really weird. In the moment, I just did what I thought I should – say that I cited him and whatnot. However, thinking about it now, I think, how strange to just come up to someone, not say your name, and tell them you have work on that topic. Maybe this person is just awkward, but I get the sense from a lot of academics that many feel like they just aren’t getting their due. However, this person has published prolifically, in many disciplinary and non-discipline journals. How can anyone working in his area not know who he is? Other people have mentioned him and his work in my presence. Hell, I mentioned him by name in my presentation in front of everyone at the conference (but apparently when he wasn’t there). I know that people know about him. I just wonder if he knows that.