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Changing gears

I spent the day getting caught up on errands today.  I went to the library and picked up the book my advisor wants me to read, went to the mall to drop off a few things and pick up some others, and so on.  Then I went to a coffee shop and started reading the book.  Hopefully it will get more interesting – after the last several months of reading a lot of literature that I find absolutely fascinating and exciting, it’s worrisome to be back to reading material that puts me to sleep sitting in public.  But it can’t be helped – I tried my best, and failed to put something together that was going to be approved by my department, so now I have to conform if I want to get this degree behind me.  Hopefully I can do it.  I’ve never been good at doing things merely for the end goal.  Enjoying the process is what it’s all about for me.

That said, I’m sure I can find a way to make this interesting.  I will be looking at gender issues around food production.  I wanted to include this as part of my research, not as it’s central focus, but that’s what I now must do.  I do find this interesting and important and when I dip into the ecofeminist literature, I get very excited.  Ecofeminism is a standpoint that resonates deeply with me and excites me to read and learn more.  What makes me fall asleep is reading theories of collective action and social movements – the direction I am once again being steered into.  I have reviewed this literature several times now, and found it uninspiring with each attempt.  Maybe I’ll have better luck this time, now that I have a different focus and angle.  Wish me luck!

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3 Responses

  1. Dare I ask – who are you reading that’s putting you to sleep? And what is it about the literature around collective action that you don’t like? I don’t suppose that you could make a critique of this literature as part of your dissertation? Sounds like it might need to be…

  2. Hi Barbara! To answer your question, it’s not so much the topic that puts me to sleep, but the questions it raises. For example, ‘what conditions are necessary to mobilize group x?’, and debates ensue about identity, rational actor theory and so on. I used to be interested in this sort of thing, but no longer. I am now much more interested in ontological questions, such as the impact of consumer culture.

    When I started researching the gender question, I found very quickly that all the aspects that interested me (i.e. that I found in ecofeminism) – such as the philosophy of science and the parallels between how modern thinking treats nature and women’s bodies – all vanished. Suddenly I was researching something that is important and interesting, but not where my heart was. After struggling for some time with this, I had a very frank discussion with my supervisor and told her I just couldn’t keep going in this direction. I thought it might spell the end of my academic career, or at least in its current form. But she agreed to let me go where I want to go and wants to keep working with me. This was not the outcome I expected, but was very welcome. Too bad the stress of it all led to me getting so sick! I’m on the mend now and hopefully will get back on track. Our goal is to get my proposal approved and committee together before the holidays.

  3. I wish you the very best of luck! And glad to hear you are on the mend. I’d love to hear sometime about your favourite eco-feminists… I actually just finished reading a great book close to my own interests: The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste by Rose George. She’s not an eco-feminist per se (actually an investigative journalist but one who actually investigates rather than regurgitates), but I think she makes many points – about how the lack of adequate watsan (water-santiation) affects women disproportionately in poor countries and also results in deforestation. She checks out biogas projects in China, for instance, where homes use their own waste, mixed in with pig manure, to generate their own gas for cooking and for fertilizer. Pretty amazing stuff.

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