I stopped blogging a while ago. The last post here was the one about that talk I went to about the Uighers. I’m not going to go into the wherefores of that here. What I’m going to talk about is why I am going to start writing here again. The reason is two-fold. First, as a place to enhance (or create) a status for myself as an academic (whatever one of those is). Second, I’m going to use it as a place to put all of the research that I find mind-bogglingly interesting into one place, so that I can come back to it again, and so that it doesn’t end up in my dissertation, adding fluff to an already-unbearably-cute thesis.
In an effort to tighten up the thesis, improve my writing, and not have to worry about not telling people about the awesome stuff I’m finding out, I’ll use the blog to write about things that are not directly relevant, but still seriously interesting. There are many of these things. In meetings with my supervisor, he describes me as a distracted (and distractable) puppy, constantly rushing off to the next thing. So, this blog is going to be a place for me to “hide the crazy”. I will keep it reasonably formal, because, really that’s the only way I know to write. (Even when I try fiction it ends up with academic-style introductions: “This story will tell you this, and this and this.” Maybe it’s just my style.)
For instance, yesterday, I was reading about veils. (Part of my thesis is concerned with appreciating cultural differences.) And I learned something fascinating from Aisha Lee Fox Shaheed’s chapter “Dress Codes and Modes,” in Jennifer Heath’s book The Veil. Shaheed makes the point that differences in dress codes have always shocked those not used to them. In British colonial times, when English ladies saw Indian women with bare feet and midriffs (even at the dinner table) they were offended. In the same way, as the clothing restrictions on women lifted after the Victorian era, British women’s décolletages and bare ankles upset the Indian ladies.*
That’s basically the crux of what I want to get at with my discussion of cultural differences. There are differences between cultures, but that doesn’t mean that one culture is ‘better’ than another. It simply means that they are different. And isn’t it awesome that there is a difference!
I’ll now speak, poetically, if I may, to the first reason behind my ressurecting this old, well-dead horse for another flogging. In an age where publishing models are changing, it’s becoming important for academics (and those of us who aspire to a garret in an ivory tower) to think about their ‘impact’ in different ways. The internet has changed the way that people access, create and supply information, knowledge and creative ideas. That’s a given. What is not changing, are the institutions by which this information (particularly in the academic sphere) is being created.
Certainly there are exceptions to this, but it is by no means the rule. Take for example, the online journalzine, Infinity Journal. Personally, I’ve been subscribing to and reading this journal since its inception. In the latest issue, the editors described the dearth of useable material they had received. (On occasion I have considered submitting to Infinity Journal, but have yet to summon the courage (or to adequately prioritize it).)
Whether I actually keep this up is another matter. Only time, and structured learning (and structured, planned use of my own time) will tell. But I hope that you enjoy reading my diversions. And that they keep the dissertation itself on course.