This post is the first in a tripartite series of lecture summaries from the fieldwork methods class which I co-teach this term at SIT New Delhi.1 The post also sums up my individual take on the venerable "DIE Exercise", a pedagogical tool originally developed in the context of intercultural education and applied here in slightly more academic form to the youtube phenomenon "Where the hell is Matt?". Links to the next two lectures follow here once they go online:

Description, interpretation, evaluation
Research questions, interview questions
Doing research as a foreigner

  • 1. More on this class here, more on the challenge of coaching undergrad research here

Today ends the pity state of this blog as a convenient dump for preprints of book reviews, since today starts a new bi-weekly series of posts on my PhD project. The series will include empirical vignettes from Lucknow, an introduction to theoretical and methodological aspects of my research, and more general musings about academic life. I begin with a post of the latter type and address the core of what I do as an academic: writing. Writing papers, chapters, articles, reviews, that dreaded book - and now a blog as well...

To be sure: I also "do research", read, and occasionally teach. But I mostly read to ground my writing, I teach topics on which I also write (occasionally, I even teach students how to write), and I spend most of my time during field research locked in a chamber - trying to write. Unfortunately, nobody really taught me three rather important points about (academic) writing: why it is crucial, that it is hard work, and how to get started. This I had to find out on my own. Here is what I discovered: