The start to my PhD has been exhilarating but intense. While hitting the ground running is always a satisfying feeling, it is only one step removed from feeling like you’ve run smack into a brick wall. I came into this program just a few weeks ago with a plan in hand. After all, I had to propose a dissertation topic on my application. But since being at Malmö I have been inundated with suggestions of books to read, people to contact, books to read, conferences to check out, books to read, journals to follow, and books to read. All of my pre-conceived notions about what my project will be are quickly unraveling as I am exposed to snippets and glimpses of the kind of work I COULD do. Let me break it down:
PhD Course at the IT University of Copenhagen
Last week I took a class called “New Ethnographic Methods for Technology Studies” at the IT University of Copenhagen. I was mostly drawn by the stellar academics running the course and giving guest lectures, particularly Paul Dourish, who wrote a paper about sci fi and ubiquitous computing that I came across recently: “Resistance is Futile”: Reading Science Fiction Alongside Ubiquitous Computing. The readings were diverse and thought-provoking and led me to really think about how my research could use ethnographic methods. I enjoyed that we were required to write papers about how our work related to the readings, and then read each other’s papers, in advance. The other PhD students in the course came from a variety of different academic departments from universities across Europe, so reading about their work gave me an in-depth look at their projects that I never would have gotten from scattered conversations over the three days. I came away from the course super mentally drained but excited about possible new directions for my project (cough cough, maybe a site visit to the setting of the novel?).
The field and the desk
- Strathern, Marilyn (1999) Introduction in property, substance and effect
- Winthereik, Brit Ross and Helen Verran (2012). “Ethnographic Stories as Generalizations that Intervene”, Science Studies 25(1)
- Strathern, Marilyn (2008): https://www.dur.ac.uk/writingacrossboundaries/writingonwriting/marilynstrathern/
Positioning the ethnographer: Inside/outside of the network
- Riles, Annelise (2000) Introduction: Inside out. In: the network inside out. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
- Haraway, Donna (1997) ‘Modest Witness’ In: Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.Femaleman?_Meets_Oncomousetm. London: Routledge
- Dourish, Paul & Genevieve Bell: “A role for Etnhography: Methodology and Theory” Chapter 4 in “Divining a Digital Future – Myth and Mythodology in Ubiquitous Computing”
The problem of the field
- Falzon, Marc- Anthony (2009) Introduction. in Multi-sited Ethnography: Theory, Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Research. London: Ashgate pp 1-25.
- Candea, Matei (2007) Arbitrary locations: in defence of the bounded field-site. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13(1):167-184
- Fortun, Kim (2009) Scaling and Visualizing Multi-sited Ethnography. In Marc-Anthony Falzon (ed.) Multi-sited Ethnography: Theory, Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Research. London: Ashgate pp 73-87.
- Brown, Steven D. (2012) Experiment: abstract experimentalism. In: Celia Lury & Nina Wakeford: Inventive Methods: The happening of the social. London: Routledge
- Marres, Nortje (2012) Experiment: the experiment in living In: Celia Lury & Nina Wakeford: Inventive Methods: The happening of the social. London: Routledge
The problem of context
- Dilley, Roy (1999) Introduction: the problem of context. In Roy Dilley (ed.) The problem of context. New York: Berghahn Books
- Asdal, Kristin & Ingunn Moser (2012) Experiments in Context and Contexting Science, Technology, & Human Values 37(4) 291-306
- Haraway, Donna (1988) Situated knowledges. The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective: Feminist Studies 14:575-99
- Hughes, Christina & Celia Lury (2013) Re-turning feminist methodologies: from a social to an ecological epistemology, Gender and Education [special issue: Material Feminisms: New Directions For Education] 25:6, 786-799
- Teun Zuiderent-Jerak 2015: Introduction: “Exploring Intervention in the Social Sciences” in Situated Intervention. Sociological Experiments in Health Care, MIT Press
- Optional conclusion: Conclusion: “Situated Intervention and the Ethics of Specificity”
Before the PhD course, I spent a magical week in Berlin, reading and writing in cafes, meeting with people who work there about ongoing projects, eating all the vegan food, doing yoga, wandering the streets, and dancing too late. It was a great time to get some SERIOUS THINKING done. Not everything about moving to a new country and starting a new PhD program is fun and games. I think it’s important to let the moments of doubt come sometimes, to burrow down and explore the frictions, discomforts, and uncertainties that I have been feeling but shoving away out of necessity as I try to get settled. As a wonderful friend of mine assured me, these feelings are normal. And Berlin was the perfect city to happily wallow in messiness for a week.
I’m getting really excited about the role that my work of fiction will play in my dissertation, although I have a lot of work to do deciding how it will fit into a Media and Communications degree, which has empirical requirements. I am looking a lot at writing by Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska and the Goldsmiths Press. There is much more out there but this is a start. I’ll make a better list later.