Time Flies When You Have Fun

Goodness me. I have not long come back from a trip to London where I have been discussing the first course I have a more academic role at. On the way back I met up with someone I started my research Masters with – and who will next week have her viva and defend her research.

Where does the time go? It feels like not long ago we all started out respective journeys in at the University, and now look at us. we seems to be getting to do things,go to places… At the same time I am currently still trying to figure out the situation with Brexit and how life will revolve around that. There is a backup plan which is time consuming, and another backup plan which is even more time consuming. Then there is obviously the newest backup plan which is the most time consuming, and which will either offer me a respite from the woes that are involved with doing research of media racism or add to the general frustrations by increasing my workload with things I am probably too dumb to understand (we’re talking complex maths and physics here). But  as my perennially cheery ex-colleague  said, you can learn complex things, you just have to tell yourself that you can and then throw yourself right in there.

Right now the only thing I intend to throw myself into is the bed, however. Tomorrow is a library day which involves lots of preparation for the teaching session on Friday where I meet the students I will be guiding through their research project. Then it will be back to normality for me – back to the day job. And to the normality of trying to figure out my own next steps. Luckily I have an online peer support group who are aiming for the same thing as I am as my backup pan number 3.  Maybe we will muddle through all of this together.

The Dreaded Change of Data

Today, the one thing that I was dreading happened. My previous research plan and my data regarding certain EU nationals and their migration to Britain was discussed, and after some silence the inevitable question was finally uttered by one of my supervisors. ‘What about Brexit?’. Pardon me for inserting a few expletives to the text in the rest of the post,  the way.

I do not mind the data collection, and I certainly do not mind the change in my research time scales. I acknowledge that the situation we have the pleasure of living is is politically and socially traumatic, historical and exhilaration. Analytically, this really is a one-in-a-lifetime experience. However, I have been avoiding this inevitable factor in my research for an obvious reason – it hits too close to home.

I am, as I have said several times, one of those pesky EU migrants to Britain. I do not have children,  I work and always have, I am educated and more often than not I am not clocked as a foreigner. But like every EU-born person – and a hell of a lot of British people – there has been a feeling of what I can only describe as fear after the EU referendum vote. God forbid you try to discuss the matter with someone or on a public forum, and some.. person will inevitably tell you to fuck off back home. Which I intend to.  You know, after taking the tram or the the bus. And after I graduate I might fuck off to another country, thank you very much,  because the perk of an education is the way it can take you nearly everywhere. That’s the thing people – it’s a wide world out there and it’s full of adventure.

Anyway, moving swiftly on, there is a real risk in doing research that is emotional. People and guidebooks talk a lot about harm to the research participant, and in some ways the responsibility of the researcher to make sure their research assistants do not suffer any harm. But there seems to be a certain silence regarding how it feels like doing research that is traumatic.

 I have so far been able to distance myself from my research because although EU migrants have been mentioned, the focus has been on two groups that are not ones I belong to. But my focus is about to change, and I intend to look at data that does talk about people like me. No, scrap that. It talks about me. It makes presumptions about me, my intellect, my language skills. At the same time, I acknowledge constantly that I have a huge amount of white privilege, the privilege of passing.  I should not feel like I am under a threat, yet I do. And there is a real risk that this feeling will increase as I do my research further, read my revised data and really engage with what the press is saying. I already know there is one particular journalist that I hope will get a severe food poisoning from prawn cocktail – I am not prine to interpersonal violence but do think some people deserve a bad case of diarrhea.     And yes, obviously that topic made me think of this fantastic video:

ANYWAY – to use those capital letters the  Daily Express seems to love – it really will be an interesting and potentially a very unpleasant journey into research that I will start. My supervisors have advised me to take time away from the topic because I have to live in the world as it is, as well as analyse my data and collect it. And in the mean time I need to maybe look into the ethics of research and how can you cope with research that is potentially very harmful to your own sanity.