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

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My Publications
What is Everyday Hybridity?


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

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  1. jeremynix:

People in Cars

I have an on going “project” capturing images of people from the passenger seat of any car I am…

View Post

Great project. It is exactly the sort of mundane stuff that we are accustomed too that makes such an interesting collection of pictures. One can joke about it, but people do glance at each other, from one car to another, especially when the vehicles come to rest. It also reminds me of this new book by Iain Borden - Drive, which is on my reading list but haven’t yet got too.
This also connects with a mini project I have collecting people’s stories about commuting to work, college, dropping kids off to school etc. I want to know more about these rhythms and how people regard their commute.
If anyone wants to share their commuting experience, message me here, or email everydayhybridity@gmail.com.

    jeremynix:

    People in Cars

    I have an on going “project” capturing images of people from the passenger seat of any car I am…

    View Post

    Great project. It is exactly the sort of mundane stuff that we are accustomed too that makes such an interesting collection of pictures. One can joke about it, but people do glance at each other, from one car to another, especially when the vehicles come to rest. It also reminds me of this new book by Iain Borden - Drive, which is on my reading list but haven’t yet got too.

    This also connects with a mini project I have collecting people’s stories about commuting to work, college, dropping kids off to school etc. I want to know more about these rhythms and how people regard their commute.

    If anyone wants to share their commuting experience, message me here, or email everydayhybridity@gmail.com.

     
     
  2. Hajj and Mobile Phones

    Sometime ago I got a post from someone on Tumblr about an academic article, or news report on the hajj and mobile phones. If anyone knows of this article, or similar articles I would really like to be pointed in the right direction. Cheers

    Paul

     
     
  3. 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.

     
     
  4. Just over 10 years ago I completed my MA research on British Muslims making the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. I have always had a fascination with Hajj and it is always an interesting time for me to observe current affairs at this time each year.
My research looked at the organisation process, prior to the wide use of the internet  (and here) to aid such plans for the British Hujjaj. I learned of the special place the Hajj had in the UK. This coincided with Britain’s first Hajj consular delegation being organised in 2000. The special preparations for flights at Manchester airport were also a testament to how the Hajj had a resonance in everyday life in the UK. I was also astonished to hear the tale of one of my informants regarding the time his grandfather made Hajj from Pakistan. It took him 6 months to travel to Pakistan. My surprise was the contrast of time with the modern day Hajj. Just 2 generations later, the grandson of this man, in his mid-twenties, was preparing to make his 9th Hajj. Yet perhaps these separated generations were equally devoting similar periods of their time to the process of pilgrimage, just in vastly different ways.
Returning to the topic of British Muslims making the pilgrimage all these years later and there are some fascinating dynamics. One of which is the increasingly younger ages of British Muslims.
Happy Eid everyone!

    Just over 10 years ago I completed my MA research on British Muslims making the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. I have always had a fascination with Hajj and it is always an interesting time for me to observe current affairs at this time each year.

    My research looked at the organisation process, prior to the wide use of the internet  (and here) to aid such plans for the British Hujjaj. I learned of the special place the Hajj had in the UK. This coincided with Britain’s first Hajj consular delegation being organised in 2000. The special preparations for flights at Manchester airport were also a testament to how the Hajj had a resonance in everyday life in the UK. I was also astonished to hear the tale of one of my informants regarding the time his grandfather made Hajj from Pakistan. It took him 6 months to travel to Pakistan. My surprise was the contrast of time with the modern day Hajj. Just 2 generations later, the grandson of this man, in his mid-twenties, was preparing to make his 9th Hajj. Yet perhaps these separated generations were equally devoting similar periods of their time to the process of pilgrimage, just in vastly different ways.

    Returning to the topic of British Muslims making the pilgrimage all these years later and there are some fascinating dynamics. One of which is the increasingly younger ages of British Muslims.

    Happy Eid everyone!

     
     
  5. 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.

     
     
  6. 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.

     
     
  7. New Project on Ethnicity in Hong Kong

    I’m pulling together the foundations for a new project on ethnicity in Hong Kong. I am looking for the insights of anyone from or based in Hong Kong (permanent or temporary) from any background, of any age, speaking any language(s). This falls under the rubric of ethnic groups, nation, race, religion, gender, language, class, and is focussed on contemporary Hong Kong. That isn’t to say I’m not interested in the past, family lineage etc, that stuff is key too.

    Initially I want to get some feedback on some basic questions, and moreover listen to what you want to tell me on a couple of topics.

    If any of my followers or readers are interested, please send me an email at

    everydayhybridity@gmail.com or pop a message in my ask box.

    All data is treated confidentially.

    Please feel free to share the post.

     
     
  8. 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.