When I read a fiction about the hen who dreamed she could fly, I found that it fits perfectly with my research. I am neither studying about hen nor fiction, but the story demonstrates some elements that makes one rebels or conform to the rules.
When I was sitting on the floor at public library, watching my 10-months old baby crawling and learning to stand up, I got an insight on my research. Even as a baby, he didn’t limit himself to crawl only at the designated kids area. He explored far away to distant and uncharted territory. Perhaps not due to rebellion per se, but because his mind hasn’t been introduced to the concept of “regulation”.
When I was at home, I’ve had a conversation over lunch with my husband that made me realize how I have been practicing what I am about to research. It could be considered a crime, albeit small ones. I was violating the norms, not only once and not unintentionally. I rationalize my decisions by weighing its pro and cons and conceptualizing it as a “period of exploration and exception”. I hadn’t even thought that I would finally study exactly on that matter.
When we moved to a shared house last weekend, on our first night, our housemate became a blatant example of what I am supposed to be inquiring. He was doing illegal activity that makes our house smells like Amsterdam. In other places, this activity is totally legal, which makes me note that legal/illegal is contextual.
Then, at night, all five of us in the new house were gathering to watch a documentary. It was about Bajau Laut, the stateless “sea-people” who are considered illegal migrants everywhere. It really brought me into thinking a lot of unanswered questions on my research.
Suddenly, everything is about my research.
Suddenly, everything is related to my research.
Hence, I blog, first and foremost to keep me focused, to document my non-linear, seemingly irrelevant thought processes around my research project so it wouldn’t be gone. Oh yes, it could easily be gone in a blink and that is the last thing I would like to happen.
The research that I have been constantly talking about is my PhD research. This year, five days before my 30th birthday, I got the greatest gift of my life, a 5-year PhD scholarship from NWO (Netherlands Organisation on Scientific Research) at Wageningen University, the Netherlands. I am part of a team of seven (one principle investigator, one post-doc, two co-supervisor, and three PhDs each from Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa) to investigate the idea of “exception”, where the legal and illegal blurs. We are going to study how it came to be, what constitutes and how things work in such situation, moreover, who decide that it is legal/illegal in first place.
This blog is also my study/research companion. Making a chronicle of what’s going on my mind to help me to learn through imitation. For example, on Bajau Laut documentary, I can learn about the story line and what aspects do the filmmaker pay attention to. Maybe I could emulate some of it on my own research. At the same time, I write to have a routine self-evaluation: is this really what my research about, am I heading to the right direction? Because the exception that I am supposed to be inquiring is not all kinds of exception, but it is around conservation, especially “crisis” conservation.
Last but not least, blogging is a good practice because the PhDs in our team are personally going to do ethnographic research (ps: I have always been dreaming of doing long fieldwork, finally it’s going to come true!). It is a good start to make me acclimatized to the habit of writing daily fieldnotes. Hence, this blog is the place where I would let my mind free flows. What you would read here is not a neat final product, but (in a way) raw materials, not only the thought processes but also daily life as a PhD researcher as it is a period in my life that I would like to remember. As I let my thoughts streams, here you would read a rather straightforward and unstylized language, because a lot of time, out of fear of being judged as not “polished” enough, I overanalyzed my language and the way I present my stories. When it comes to writing daily, those things makes me quite paralyzed and mute.
Well, I hope I don’t have to end this post this abruptly, but I don’t know what more to say. That’s all for now, then! Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy and follow my open-ended journey as the story line of an independent researcher in-the-making unfolds. Comments and suggestions are welcome, and looking forward to hear from you.
Featured photo source: http://isilluminating.tumblr.com/post/109866808613/i-adore-this-book-its-an-old-korean-fable-that