In two words: it sucks. After nearly two years of adventure, of traveling and trying to figure things out in new places, in multiple languages (most of which I don’t speak), meeting people, and learning tons and tons of new things, the time has arrived (since January, in fact) to sort out what I have learned, to make sense of it all.
BUT THAT'S NOT NEARLY AS MUCH FUN AS HAVING FUN WITH NEW PEOPLE IN NEW PLACES!
I did write a chapter last summer, and I have lots of notes and a few presentations, so it’s not like I was starting from complete scratch. But putting your data to your ideas, even though you’ve been thinking about the connections for years, is nigh impossible some days. It’s exciting when something comes together, but those days don’t come often.
However, I am finding some joy in the little things, like revisiting interviews and realizing the little connections between what an Ivorian woman has told me and a theoretical concept. And when I can take a few moments to step back and look at what I'm doing, I can see a bigger picture, pinpoint where my tiny contribution fits in, and feel a bit proud of myself.
This drag will end soon, inshallah, as soon as I take care of a bit of conference travel. (I did not fly for more than two months, which is some kind of record for me recently!) As I type, I’m on my way to Lund, Sweden, for the Feminist Peace Research Network workshop, then next week to Long Island for the Berkshire Conference, then the European Conference on Politics and Gender in Geneva, a short stop in Berlin for fun, and finally Brighton, UK, for the British International Studies Association. Several of these are places I’ve never been, and between the travel and the productive conversations, I’ll be looking forward to wrapping up this long slog of writing and moving on …
Travel and research notes
Fieldwork and travel in Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali, as well as Burkina Faso, Morocco, Tanzania, South Africa, and wherever else I end up. Plus occasional research-related thoughts.