Plans for everyday life

The calendar has rolled over, a new academic year is about to start, and many of us are thinking about the kind of year we want 2017 to be.  Ok, most people thought of that three weeks ago, but it’s summer in Wellington (at least in myth, if not in weather) and time seems longer, so we’ve taken January as a whole to be the beginning of the year.  There are big statements to make, of course.  But there are also promises for everyday life.  So in the spirit of beginnings, endings, continuations, or whatever it is we make these abstract plans and intentions for, here are a few of the everyday things some of us at vicanthropology are hoping for this year:

Nayantara Sheoran Appleton, research associate

While not necessarily a resolution, I do have a deep desire to read more fiction this year. I’ve always enjoyed immersing myself in a text that takes me to a different place and experience. While a ‘fun’ 2017 project, I also find that bits of fiction writing do in fact ignite my thinking about academic work, and perhaps improve my writing. So that end, more fun reading in 2017, including Han Kang and Elena Ferrante’s translated works.

Bryony Cunningham-Pow, MA student

To lead into the research I want to complete in 2017 I will be reading Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity by Erving Goffman (1963). I want to read this book to start the focus of my MA research exploring how social and cultural beliefs and expectations shape the experience and understanding of irritable bowel syndrome.

Zoe Poppelwell, PhD student

I would like to do two things this year – one is more likely than the other…

  1. I would like to begin my PhD fieldwork by the end of the year, and;
  2. I’d love to pet a capybara at the zoo. They are my favourite animal – such a majestic rodent.

Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich, professor of anthropology, and head of school

My resolution is to read around six whole ethnographies that take me away from my usual research interests and hopefully inspire me and challenge me.

I find that since becoming Head of School, my focus has been totally on my own research and teaching, and my view of my discipline has been dimmed.

Reading whole books seems less daunting and more fun than just feeling guilty and detached.

Rara Sekar Larasati, MA student

As a social worker I want to explore and really understand the role of education for social change, so one of my resolutions this year is to read as many of Paulo Freire’s books as I can. So far, I have been very much inspired by two of his books: Pedagogy of the Oppressed and We Make the Road by Walking co-authored with Myles Horton, and I’m also currently reading Education for Critical Consciousness.

After I finish writing my master’s thesis, I will have to go back to Indonesia and continue my work with the community. I hope that through my understandings in critical reflection, anthropological imagination, and experience in ethnographic research will equip me for more impactful social action in the future; a critical social praxis that is cognizant of people’s lived experiences, because for me, action without critical reflection can lead to disastrous activism, and understanding without sharing is, from my point of view, permitting oppression to persist.

Jessica Ward, honours alumnus

This year I’ve enrolled to finish up the majority of a science degree, and I’m looking at tutoring again to make the most of my anthropology qualifications.  I’ll be working on radio again with The Anger Management show at Radioactive, picking up the piercing needle more often, and completing my suspension kit.  I must get my damn drivers licence, and a new passport.  There are performances and all sorts of adventures booked in for the year.  But mostly, I want to work on artistic ventures of all kinds, pick up music again, read for pleasure, and sit in nature more than I did last year – these things are good for personal head-space.

Caroline Bennett, lecturer

I never really make plans at the beginning of the year; they usually arrive somewhere halfway along.  As we’re posting this on January 23rd, it seems as good a time as any to start, so this year (at least from today) I’m going to write everyday.  Sometimes a whole pile, sometimes just a line.  But something everyday.  One day I hope the words will make sense, at least to me, if no-one else.

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