Standing on the shoulders of giants.

I have been conference/symposium/masterclass marathoning of late. And accumulating soundbites, as usual.

Meeting new people is always equal parts fun, exciting, and awkward for me.

Amidst the rapid fire stimulation, it is comforting to have academics who have ‘been there and done that’ take the time to disseminate advice accumulated from life experience to newbies… you know, from years of trial-and-error, of groping in the dark, of some introspection and nostalgia, of some regret or unfulfilled aspiration.

Academia is so chock full of barriers and can easily slip into being the most alienating experience. We’re all just figuring it out as we go along. But the bits of mentoring I have received along the way – intentional, accidental, or otherwise – have been mini-lighthouses in times of self-doubt and questioning.

Thanks for all the gold, Ben, Florence, Jean, Kath, Michele, Nancy, Sharif, and Susanna.

Good advice from good people, for the personal catalogue:

On posturing

1) We may look confident but inside everyone is secretly just winging it.

2) Persons of multiple intersectionalities should look for mentors to understand the additional barriers they have to navigate.

3) If you want to talk to a superstar academic, just go up to them and talk. No other miscellaneous theatrics necessary.

4) If possible, get some media training. Learn to genre switch depending on your audience. Talk to various demographics and sections of peoples about your work to build confidence.

On researching

1) Build a narrative into all your work. Take on side projects but make sure they count towards your research trajectory.

2) Renarrativize yourself depending on who you are speaking to. Don’t be rigid and insist upon occupying only one very specific area of study. Diversify yourself.

3) Adapt and enlarge your research interests, teach around the periphery, and expand on the little you know. There is always more to learn.

On teaching

1) Sometimes the teaching is your day job that allows you to do the research you want. That’s life, and it’s okay.

2) Sometimes you teach in areas not in your research interests, but it may be what gets you tenure. You’ll have to find ways to incorporate your research into your teaching.

3) Split your research into packagable teaching bits, i.e. interesting methodology, specificities with ethics.

4) Offer to give guest lectures to gain experience about discussing your research pedagogically.

On a related note, I recently attended an Anthropology symposium that touched my heart in a different way – All the camaraderie among 60-70yo anthropologists who did fieldwork around the same time decades ago was making me jelly. Where are all my friends? Can we grow old together please?

#digcult14 was very tweetable.

“IF THERE IS A FIRE, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.” /Fire safety 101, nice and easy

“CYBER-SEX IS SO 1990s.”

“WHO DOESN’T WANT TO BE A SUPERHERO.”

“PULL YOUR SKIRT DOWN KEEP YOUR DATA NICE MODEL OF CYBER-SAFETY.”

“YOU DONATE YOUR DATA.”

“Gay men have always been blending.” Flashbacks to the barista at the juice stall in Seoul. /which city is my body in right now

“WHEN I GO INTO THE CLUB I CAN BE ALL TITS AND TEETH.” / “WHEN I AM ONLINE PEOPLE TREAT ME LIKE GOOGLE.”

“RIHANNA IS A PRODUCT OF SOCIAL MEDIA.”

“I am academically promiscuous.”

“Is there a choreography of how we want to proceed?”

“This idea of theoretical purity… I’ve never been a fan of purity, in my academic or personal life.”

“I was kind of a bit of a theory slut.”

“Imagine your (thesis) reader is really simple and hostile.”

“Arrogance is common in academia, but it is not very attractive.”

“Your thesis is not a grand cathedral, it is just a Protestant brick and water (inaudible)”

“Don’t get it perfect, get it in.” -on thesis writing

“Just write ugly.” -on fixating on over-ambitious thesis plans

“Oh god why did I write like an infant.” -on reading your old work

“The notion of a discipline… I just find it really quaint.”

“It’s kinda like Donkey Kong… academia is a hierarchy, a pyramid.”

“Self-protection… Learn to say no.” -on balancing the thesis and other facets of life

“Not all peers are peers… There are cliques… You need friends.”

“Renarrativize yourself depending on who you are speaking to.”

“It’s like the darker side of dating… You have to be what they want you to be…They want you to be their fantasy.” -on jobs

“There’s a coming out party every time you go for a job interview.” -on being interdisciplinary

“I don’t wanna party, I just wanna crawl.”

“We’re so serious about this we don’t want Google to know.” -on analogue documentation.

“How is it that we only met yesterday? I feel like I’ve known you all for so long.”

“It’s funny how we travel halfway around the world only to end up seeing the same group of people again. We must be doing something right.”

“Alcohol is the fuel of intelligence… Am I a conference alcoholic?” (Bartender: “NO.”)