on not writing from the PhD

patter

This is a guest post by Dr Mark Carrigan, Research Fellow at Centre for Social Ontology: socialontology.org, The University of Warwick and Digital Fellow at The Sociological Review: @thesocreview.

On March 26th 2014 I finally submitted my thesis for the PhD I had begun almost six years earlier. The event itself was somewhat anticlimactic after a false start the day before when ebullience at having finished gave way to irritation upon realising I’d misread the formatting guidelines and had to get my thesis reprinted. Thus I shuffled into University House the following day, somewhat hungover, with my now correctly printed thesis only to be told that I was in the wrong place and had to make my way across campus if I wanted the university to take receipt of this document which had dominated my life for the past six years. In retrospect this subdued comedy of errors…

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List of great ethnographies!

I haven’t blogged in a very long time. Part of it was being away in India, doing my fieldwork and then being back and trying to get used to life here. I have a blogpost in the works on the struggles of being back from fieldwork but first, here is a list of ethnographies curated by the students in anthropology at ANU.

Brave new words

When I was new to anthropology I really wanted some kind of ‘best of’ list of ethnographies to get me started. For the most part when I asked anthropologists to tell what work had influenced them the most, they had to stop and think about it or they gave equivocal answers.

So I’m pleased to circulate a recently drafted ‘best of’ list produced by anthropology students at the Australian National University. I am not endorsing the list, but simply making it available. It’s encouraging that so many were published in the last fifteen years. Perhaps this is a sign of intellectual progress and generational change within the discipline.

Here it is, with thanks to Shiori Shakuto and the Anthropgrad list:

Abu-Lughod, Lila 1986. Veiled Sentiments: Honour and Poetry in a Bedouin Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Allison, Anne 1994. Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo…

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preparing for the PhD oral exam

patter

As a supervisor it is part of my job to help doctoral researchers prepare for their viva. I’ve not done one myself, as Australian PhDs are typically examined by means of a long report from two or three examiners. However, I have conducted a lot of viva examinations since being in the UK – four so far this year, seven last year and six the year before, just to start on the count-back. And of course I’ve sat in vivas as a supervisor, frantically taking notes and trying not to let my facial expression give me away when I’ve found a line of questioning a bit troubling. So I ought to know what this viva stuff is about, right?

As supervisor, I actually find the formal viva prep a difficult process, as I’m sure the doctoral researcher does too. Now firmly in the position of candidate, she is nervous and…

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While this is certainly a broader perspective on redevelopment than traditional models of eviction and resettlements outside the city, it has some major flaws. I say this not just because this is what I believe but because recent scholarship in the area of informal urbanism focusses on this. Ananya Roy amongst others has written about the short-sightedness of De Soto style land tenure legitimising schemes. The assumption is that once the “slum-dwellers” have property rights, they will be able to “monetize” the land and reap the benefits. First this paradigm totally ignores the asymmetry of information between the “slum-dweller” and a real estate mogul who will be looking to buy the land. It also assumes that because now that the “slum-dweller” has access to some money, it solves the problem of poverty and all the myriad of issues that are linked with it. Further it totally ignores the potential disruption of communities, informal economic networks etc that might result from the dispersion that will likely happen.

Sustainable Cities: Finance, Design, and Innovation

By Candy Tang

With respect to slum redevelopment, it would be more effective to grant residents title to the plots of land the currently occupy and then let market forces work, rather than looking to large scale redevelopment via professional real estate firms.

If we could all agree that one major goal of slum redevelopment is to improve the welfare of its residents, there is no better way than to grant residents the property right as a solution. A great majority of the world’s largest slums such as Orangi Town, Neza-Chalco-Itza and Dharavi are near the heart of the city. They constantly provide low-cost labor to the city but they don’t share in the growth of the city in the form of land appreciation. Assuming liquidity is high in these real estate markets, which is always the case in rapidly developed cities, slum dwellers could monetize the benefits and they…

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I haven’t had the time to research this “innovative digital project”, but it sounds interesting. Worth a read!

Indigo Trust

The Indigo Trust is funding an innovative digital project to support some of the poorest communities in Kenya as they struggle for a basic right that most of us take for granted – the right to live securely in our own home.

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