On bodilessness

Speaking of space and place, here is something that I have been following and meaning to document for a while: bodiless protests. I am afraid I can’t afford to write it up in a more synthesised manner at the moment, but I thought I’d at least put everything in one place.

# “iPhone candles” (March 2010

# Patent for “robots for picketing” (March 2013

# Julian Assange featuring in a US conference in hologram form (September 2014)

# Snowden hologram replacing a removed statue of his in Brooklyn park (April 2015)

# World’s first hologram protest in Madrid against the country’s new “gag law” (April 2015)

20150526_hologram_protest

(Image from International Society for Presence Research, 13 April 2015)

# Amnesty “ghost rally” in Gwanghwamun (February 2016

# Projection of “@jack is #complicit” on Twitter HQ (Jan 2018)

# Projection of “This is not normal” and “sh*thole” (with emojis!) on the Trump Hotel in Washington DC (Jan 2018)

# #WeAreWatching project against institutionalised racism (September 2016)

# The internet is mostly bots (December 2018

# Shut it downbeamed on the Chosun Ilbo building (July 2019) 

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Challenge accepted [2]

I created a Twitter account in 2007, but have always been a half-hearted user. The reason has been quite simply the restriction on message length. However, in the age of TLDR, being able to summarise research findings in one or two tweets seems to be an increasingly useful skill. So, here we go, my attempts.

# […] The thesis was that the Internet is as much a ‘metaphor’ as a technology, and successful e-campaigns have been those tapping into the former discursively (rather than the latter logistically). (9 March 2019)

# […] News articles that attracted a large amount of reactions from readers and articles that drew *divisive* reactions were two distinct groups [in our new Quality & Quantity piece]. (23 April 2019)

Staying afloat

One of the questions I get most frequently from students upon their return from the field is “What now?”. They come back gloriously with tens of hours of interview recordings, pages after pages of ethnographic fieldnotes, and gigabytes of photos and news clippings, and they all say — understandably — that they feel overwhelmed by the challenge ahead of staying afloat and making headway in that sea of unstructured data.

RT @JessicaCalarco Doing qualitative research often feels like playing Jeopardy – you can see the answers (i.e., the patterns you find in your data), but you don’t always know the question (i.e., the problem those patterns solve). (21 December 2018)

I share with them well-established tips such as ease into it, embrace the messiness, keep an audit trail, put oneself in the reader’s [examiner’s] shoes, read what you want to write et cetera. These tips have all been highly appreciated, but then there are every now and then situations where students are still looking for something more concrete and readily usable in their research while I consciously try to be less prescriptive and more ‘Socratic’ (so to say). Those situations always feel to me like we are communicating back-scratching coordinates.

While I maintain that I shouldn’t be, and cannot be, too prescriptive, I thought I’d put together a nice ‘mixtape’ of resources for them. More will be added on.

For code-based theory building (as in GT)

For ‘Big Qual’ analysis 

For thematic analysis

For framework analysis

For discourse analysis

What we mean by a ‘case’ when we say we do case studies 

Then and now

Just came back from a conference on “migration, mobility, and borders”, organised by and for our doctoral researchers. Interestingly, I was invited to give a ‘career talk’. My immediate suggestion was to bring in a career consultant instead, but for a combination of a couple of reasons, I ended up doing the talk. Come to think of it, I have been living and working among doctoral and early career researchers for almost 15 years, while being required to monitor the latest developments in the sector, so I told myself that I might indeed have one or two things to say about for their benefit.

Considering the theme, I prepared my talk along the lines of the increased expectation of (early career) researchers to be available/willing to be globally mobile. That is just one of the many, previously non-existent expectations imposed on the current generation of PhD candidates. I included this image (as a GIF) in my slides because every time I see it, I think of them. I honestly do.

Here are a couple more items that highlight how far things have changed in the PhD game.

# 2015 advice for your 856-year-old Ph.D. (Christian Sandvig, 5 August 2015)

Academic superheroes? A critical analysis of academic job descriptions (Pitt & Mewburn, 2016)

100 years of the PhD (Bogle, 2017, Vitae)

# The UK doctorate: history, features and challenges (Deem & Dowle, 2018 [email of 12 January 2019)

# “How I Got My First Academic Job, 1965 ed” (@profmusgrave, 20 March 2019)

# Thesis declaration, now and then (source: Got this off Twitter two months ago, but despite my best efforts, I can’t trace back to the original link. Let me know!)

+ Speaking of thesis declarations, see also Stephen Hawking’sone that broke the internet.

A gendered tale from South Korea

Global Digital Futures – E09. Molka and Online Violations of Women in South Korea

I was honoured to be invited to the SOAS Coding Club, a student-led radio station on campus, the first tech one at that, last week to talk about the ongoing molka epidemic in South Korea. When the host Chipo and I were discussing a possible podcast on my latest essay on the subject and picking a date for recording, obviously we didn’t know that our conversation would be aired amid newer and bigger scandals such as a K-pop idol and his involvement in running a club that has been alleged to be a ‘date rape hub’, another K-pop celebrity being caught for years’ worth of sharing of his sex videos (filmed without his partners’ knowledge) with fellow celebrities for male bonding, and the arrests of two men for secretly filming 1,600 hotel guests and streaming the footage live as pay-per-view porn.

There is so much to process here, but in the meantime, I have listened to the full 26 minutes of recording – despite the inevitable cringe that comes from listening to one’s own voice!!! – and realised two errors I made that I would like to iron out.

  • I should have said passers-by, not passer-bys. (15:52)
  • It was the Prime Minister’s Office that tweeted out those ridiculous anti-molka cartoons, not the Ministry of the Interior and Safety [let alone Internal Affairs]. (19:40)

Anthropology in the digital worlds [2]

Earlier this week I organised a lecture by a Professor of Anthropology on ethnographic methods for doctoral researchers across other disciplines. I stayed for the full session myself too. As I have said on this blog repeatedly already, my attitude towards anthropology is like that of a fangirl. I admit that must have a lot to do with my romanticised idea of the discipline. Nevertheless, my suspicions were confirmed when the professor said that anthropologists have a special relationship with ethnographic methods, feeling that they *own* the methods, even though the methods are now popularly used in many other disciplines too. (In fact on several occasions he used “anthropological methods” and “ethnographic methods” interchangeably.) And it broke my heart a little when he described anthropology as distinct from studies of texts, archives, and … the internet. It didn’t seem that anyone was bothered by that split-second remark, but to me it felt like someone closed the door on me – a door to a cool club that I was snooping around, hoping to be invited in.

Anyway, it was a fantastic talk and I was able to take away many gems of reading suggestions.

Thesis Psychosis [4]

Saw a YouTube video of this song on a random blog many years ago. I liked it, but after that blog disappeared I couldn’t recall for the life of me the singer’s name. So, the video became one of those things that I don’t think about at all most of the time but when it springs to my mind out of the blue I will do some obsessive searching for in vain and leave until the next time it happens. Or to be more factual, one of my many digital objects of procrastination.

Then last week it just came back – equally out of the blue. Not the very same rendition but I take it.