Everyday Hybridity

Dr Paul O'Connor
Anthropology/Sociology/Cultural Studies/
Hong Kong/Ethnicity/
Skateboarding/Everyday Life

Lecturing in Anthropology at CUHK

Me

cuhk.academia.edu/PaulOConnor
@peejayohhsee
everydayhybridity@gmail.com

pages

My Publications
What is Everyday Hybridity?


Posts on Hybridity
Posts on Hong Kong
Posts on Islam
Posts on Skateboarding

tumblinks

search

free counters
Free counters

powered by tumblr
seattle theme by parker ehret

  1. The delicate art of forgetting…to improve

    I came across a situation the other day where someone was trying desperately to remember something that had slipped from their mind. It became a moment of self reflection for me as I realised I no longer get frustrated when I forget stuff. I traced the contours of this epiphany and began to pinpoint when it all began…I was delivered to the mid-stages of my doctorate. 

    At this time I was in the midst of an explosion of thought. I had completed the key parts of my research and I was analysing the data. At the same time I was reading a whole bunch of  un-explored literature and coming up with some great new ideas. I found that I was holding so much complex information in my head I was unable to deal with it all. Even to the point where if I was making notes I couldn’t scribble them out, or type fast enough to get out all the subtleties of the interconnecting ideas. I would try to stay up late until I had thought through, followed up, and recorded my thoughts. It was difficult and frustrating to deal with it all.

    Then I  fell in love with forgetting. I simply had to sleep, or I had to attend to my kids, or other mundane and earthly issues. In these moments when my thoughts were fractured I began to appreciate the catharsis of letting it all go. I realised that by forgetting, or losing my train of thought, I came back sharper with a more elegant mind. At times I thought I had grasped something truly beautiful and I marched home seeking a moment to jot it down…but it had flown. But when my next idea came it was more solid, more memorable, more accessible. Thus forgetting helped me improve.

    To bring this to a wider field of analysis the human mind has remarkable abilities to remember and forget. In many cases forgetting can be regarded as a necessary defence mechanism to make the world liveable, understandable, bearable. I think that the human mind has a certain buoyancy and that we must trust it to deliver, when necessary, the truly useful information we require.

    But now thinking about what I wrote…just forget it.

     
     
  2. Revisiting “The Location of Culture”

    Years ago my doctoral supervisor told me, to always read what I was interested in, rather than what I thought I should be reading. Her point was not to encourage me miss key texts, but to appease my interests and curiosities first of all. So my old and dog eared copy of Homi Bhabha’s “The Location of Culture” has been quietly stalking me the last week. Staring at me from the bookshelf, cropping up in conversation, and then in one of the assigned readings for a class I’m teaching.

    I gave in and decided to pay it another visit. Then this leaps out at me…

    What is theoretically innovative, and politically crucial, is the need to think beyond narratives of originary and initial subjectivities and to focus on those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences. These ‘inbetween’ spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood - singular or communal - that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself.

    This seems to be an apropos quote for dealing with the present flux in Hong Kong society itself. Bhabha’s notion that the periphery works to contribute to the construction of the core has some resonance in Hong Kong, and perhaps more broadly in China HK relations, which I think should be explored in light of the spectrum of political issues during 2012. It is always helpful to identify boundary construction, but never to overlook what it strives to contain.

     
     
  3. The Guardian has a curious article in it today about the perils of postgraduate research. It warns people that research based PG courses can be a bit overwhelming simply because of the lack of structure. A very superficial piece, but perhaps of passing interest.

    Excellent time management and organisational skills are prerequisites for any research student. Based on personal experience, this is not the time to develop these skills: by now, you either you have them or you don’t.

     
     
  4. Transforming your work into a book: what is involved?
Last month I wrote about the book 'getting it published' and spoke about how it helped me get on the right track with my manuscript.
Now that my book is pending publication I feel like those early days of transforming my research into a book format are starting to become a bit hazy. So I am going to share some of my experiences before the next phase of the book’s life come to overtake everything else and I lose touch with those first steps.
After I was awarded my doctorate it was very clear that the whole moment of celebration and catharsis that I was expecting was not actually ever going to arrive. Other activities of publishing journal articles, attending conferences and looking for jobs quickly fill the void left by the PhD. The examiners of my project were positive about the work and one in particular really urged me to pursue the publication of the entire work. 
Quickly I found that this possibility could become a reality. I approached a variety of publishers and discussed the project that I had. I recognised that as my work was a PhD project there were many hurdles to get over in terms of publishers having the faith and conviction that you could make an academic thesis become a marketable book. This is clearly not going to happen with some projects. Their field of enquiry is often simply too narrow to warrant a book. However, there are other avenues to promote and publish your work.
The key thing that I want to share is the actual time that was invested in the process. I took about  2 years reworking my writing, redrafting, doing additional research, and additional writing. This was quite challenging at times because of the energy already invested in the doctorate. Many academics simply don’t pursue the publication of their doctoral research because of the challenge of reworking something you have already invested such a long time in. 
I realised that I had spent so long on the project that I had to get some distance from it before I could return to redrafting it. I had about 6 months break to finish off other projects that I was involved with. After all preparing your work for examination and then preparing it to present to publishers are very different things and require quite different modes of thinking. I had some positive feedback but there were key things I had to do
1. Remove the defensive argument. 
(this is a key characteristic of a thesis, but not a book. People reading a book are already aware that you are speaking from a position of experience. They are reading out of interest, not like an examiner who is reading to audit.)

2. Too much theory, too much literature review. 
(Another hallmark of a thesis is that it contains way too much information that is intended to highlight you know everything that has already been published in the area you are working. This is cumbersome in a book and obstructs readers getting to the original content of your own work.)

3. Appeal to a broader audience that simply the academic world.
Each one of these posed a challenge. But item number 3, was perhaps the simplest. I found writing in less formal way and opening up other tangents that I previously dismissed, made my whole project endlessly more readable. 
Typically when you present your manuscript to a publisher they will internally review it and see if it has merits to send out for peer review. If you are a first time author, and that is really who this post refers to, the publisher is going to be cautious. If it does get sent for peer review then this is the first step in having your work seriously considered for publication. The professional feedback you get from other academics, or experts in the field, in this review process is priceless. It may be hard at times to listen to some of the critique, especially if they identify issues you feel you have been diligently managing. Give yourself time to digest what they are saying. It is often the case that the comments are well considered and have important value. 
It is also often the case that reviewers want additional information, further research, or in some cases they may simply dismiss the book as unnecessary and unmarketable. It then becomes your job to respond to these questions and recommendations. What you choose to do will ultimately dictate if your publisher will go any further with the project. However much they like your work they will not ignore the professionals they have enlisted to help them make their decision.
So in sum for anyone out there working on a non-fiction book, reworking a thesis, or seeking a publisher, this is some advice and guidance. Be informed about the process and then you are in the best position to prepare for its challenges and the ups and downs of what can be a very long process.
Of course let us not criticise the book process in any measure. In this world of tweets, Facebook status’s and instant messaging, too much of what we present to the world is instantaneous. Decided upon in a whim, prepared in a second, forgotten about moments later. Thoughtful academic work, to borrow again from Les Back, holds value because of the time and consideration invested in it.

    Transforming your work into a book: what is involved?

    Last month I wrote about the book 'getting it published' and spoke about how it helped me get on the right track with my manuscript.

    Now that my book is pending publication I feel like those early days of transforming my research into a book format are starting to become a bit hazy. So I am going to share some of my experiences before the next phase of the book’s life come to overtake everything else and I lose touch with those first steps.

    After I was awarded my doctorate it was very clear that the whole moment of celebration and catharsis that I was expecting was not actually ever going to arrive. Other activities of publishing journal articles, attending conferences and looking for jobs quickly fill the void left by the PhD. The examiners of my project were positive about the work and one in particular really urged me to pursue the publication of the entire work. 

    Quickly I found that this possibility could become a reality. I approached a variety of publishers and discussed the project that I had. I recognised that as my work was a PhD project there were many hurdles to get over in terms of publishers having the faith and conviction that you could make an academic thesis become a marketable book. This is clearly not going to happen with some projects. Their field of enquiry is often simply too narrow to warrant a book. However, there are other avenues to promote and publish your work.

    The key thing that I want to share is the actual time that was invested in the process. I took about  2 years reworking my writing, redrafting, doing additional research, and additional writing. This was quite challenging at times because of the energy already invested in the doctorate. Many academics simply don’t pursue the publication of their doctoral research because of the challenge of reworking something you have already invested such a long time in. 

    I realised that I had spent so long on the project that I had to get some distance from it before I could return to redrafting it. I had about 6 months break to finish off other projects that I was involved with. After all preparing your work for examination and then preparing it to present to publishers are very different things and require quite different modes of thinking. I had some positive feedback but there were key things I had to do

    1. Remove the defensive argument. 

    (this is a key characteristic of a thesis, but not a book. People reading a book are already aware that you are speaking from a position of experience. They are reading out of interest, not like an examiner who is reading to audit.)


    2. Too much theory, too much literature review. 

    (Another hallmark of a thesis is that it contains way too much information that is intended to highlight you know everything that has already been published in the area you are working. This is cumbersome in a book and obstructs readers getting to the original content of your own work.)


    3. Appeal to a broader audience that simply the academic world.

    Each one of these posed a challenge. But item number 3, was perhaps the simplest. I found writing in less formal way and opening up other tangents that I previously dismissed, made my whole project endlessly more readable. 

    Typically when you present your manuscript to a publisher they will internally review it and see if it has merits to send out for peer review. If you are a first time author, and that is really who this post refers to, the publisher is going to be cautious. If it does get sent for peer review then this is the first step in having your work seriously considered for publication. The professional feedback you get from other academics, or experts in the field, in this review process is priceless. It may be hard at times to listen to some of the critique, especially if they identify issues you feel you have been diligently managing. Give yourself time to digest what they are saying. It is often the case that the comments are well considered and have important value. 

    It is also often the case that reviewers want additional information, further research, or in some cases they may simply dismiss the book as unnecessary and unmarketable. It then becomes your job to respond to these questions and recommendations. What you choose to do will ultimately dictate if your publisher will go any further with the project. However much they like your work they will not ignore the professionals they have enlisted to help them make their decision.

    So in sum for anyone out there working on a non-fiction book, reworking a thesis, or seeking a publisher, this is some advice and guidance. Be informed about the process and then you are in the best position to prepare for its challenges and the ups and downs of what can be a very long process.

    Of course let us not criticise the book process in any measure. In this world of tweets, Facebook status’s and instant messaging, too much of what we present to the world is instantaneous. Decided upon in a whim, prepared in a second, forgotten about moments later. Thoughtful academic work, to borrow again from Les Back, holds value because of the time and consideration invested in it.

     
     
  5. I have got a lot of time for the writings and insight of Les Back. His 2007 book 'the art of listening' was very important and influential to me in the final stages of my doctorate. 
I just recently came across his online work academic diary which is in simple terms just fantastic. In many respects it takes off where his 2007 book closed. Les talks about the academy, everyday life, great scholars, and the reality of university life and new changes.
I can’t recommend it enough to those in Higher Education. The fact that it is so beautifully laid out and accessible adds to its scope and content. Now i’m currently reading up the entry for the 14th of June, a Zygmunt Bauman reference and a parable about how being in the academy can obstruct a writer’s output.

    I have got a lot of time for the writings and insight of Les Back. His 2007 book 'the art of listening' was very important and influential to me in the final stages of my doctorate. 

    I just recently came across his online work academic diary which is in simple terms just fantastic. In many respects it takes off where his 2007 book closed. Les talks about the academy, everyday life, great scholars, and the reality of university life and new changes.

    I can’t recommend it enough to those in Higher Education. The fact that it is so beautifully laid out and accessible adds to its scope and content. Now i’m currently reading up the entry for the 14th of June, a Zygmunt Bauman reference and a parable about how being in the academy can obstruct a writer’s output.

     
     
  6. Producing, dealing with, and surviving a manuscript; a message to authors beginning to scale a mountain.
I want to post this as I am in the final stages of proof reading my manuscript. The publishers have sent it back to me for checking as they prepare to send it to press.
I think for even the most aloof student there is always that lingering knowledge that when you do a PhD, you are basically writing a book. The truth is that you are writing something ‘book length’, you are proving your skill at managing a cogent argument over upwards of 80,000 words. The truth of the matter is that turning a PhD thesis into a book is a miraculous feat.
I never really entertained the idea that my doctoral research would become the basis for a book. However, when the examiners both stressed that the material was worthy of publication, I took it to heart. I realised that if I was going to transform my thesis into a book it would be a mammoth task. I felt knowing the scale of the task would enable me to endure the rough terrain with greater resolve. In part I was right, I did however underestimate the conceptual shift of the task. 
I made massive efforts to redraft the text so it was more accessible, less defensive, and more characteristic of a book than a thesis. after the best part of 18 months I had mostly achieved this. But about a third of the text was too academic and needed to be refreshed and made accessible. This is when I embraced on supplementary research and injected some fresh perspective into the text.
In truth the process of reproducing a manuscript from a PhD is pretty much like doing another PhD. It is hard work and you do not have the same structure of support or guarantee of a final award.
William Germano’s book about how to get ‘serious books’ published was a huge aid. I recommend this whole heartedly to anyone considering a similar endeavour. I also encourage you to carefully consider some of his polemic wording. In the melodrama, there is much experience and good advice. I also got some excellent feedback from other academics, people who had actually published books. Their insights were invaluable. 
I shall also make a post soon that gives a basic walkthrough of what the process encompassed so people learn a bit of the mystery of how a bunch of ideas become a book you actually hold.

    Producing, dealing with, and surviving a manuscript; a message to authors beginning to scale a mountain.

    I want to post this as I am in the final stages of proof reading my manuscript. The publishers have sent it back to me for checking as they prepare to send it to press.

    I think for even the most aloof student there is always that lingering knowledge that when you do a PhD, you are basically writing a book. The truth is that you are writing something ‘book length’, you are proving your skill at managing a cogent argument over upwards of 80,000 words. The truth of the matter is that turning a PhD thesis into a book is a miraculous feat.

    I never really entertained the idea that my doctoral research would become the basis for a book. However, when the examiners both stressed that the material was worthy of publication, I took it to heart. I realised that if I was going to transform my thesis into a book it would be a mammoth task. I felt knowing the scale of the task would enable me to endure the rough terrain with greater resolve. In part I was right, I did however underestimate the conceptual shift of the task. 

    I made massive efforts to redraft the text so it was more accessible, less defensive, and more characteristic of a book than a thesis. after the best part of 18 months I had mostly achieved this. But about a third of the text was too academic and needed to be refreshed and made accessible. This is when I embraced on supplementary research and injected some fresh perspective into the text.

    In truth the process of reproducing a manuscript from a PhD is pretty much like doing another PhD. It is hard work and you do not have the same structure of support or guarantee of a final award.

    William Germano’s book about how to get ‘serious books’ published was a huge aid. I recommend this whole heartedly to anyone considering a similar endeavour. I also encourage you to carefully consider some of his polemic wording. In the melodrama, there is much experience and good advice. I also got some excellent feedback from other academics, people who had actually published books. Their insights were invaluable. 

    I shall also make a post soon that gives a basic walkthrough of what the process encompassed so people learn a bit of the mystery of how a bunch of ideas become a book you actually hold.