Fall 2009: Notes on the Start of a Ph.D.

The Fall 2009 term has drawn to a close.  I have finished both my course work on cities in the Asia-Pacific at the Institute of Asian Research with Dr. Abidin Kusno as well as my teaching assistant duties for the UBC-Ritsumeikan Exchange’s Introduction to Canadian Studies.  It is time to take a breath and recharge…

And yet I am thinking…

What happens when you start your Ph.D. is that suddenly, you are talking to so many people who seem to be interested in your research that inevitably, your research begins to be shaped by these conversations.  This is a good thing.  It is collegiality at its best.  And that is what is causing me to think heavily on certain things this holiday season, which include:

  • Why religion matters in a time/space we assume to be secular (an interesting book I have picked up as an “in” this holiday break is John Milbank’s Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason).
  • The role of colonial segregation in post-colonial cities in shaping ideas about race and religion
  • Class consciousness in post-colonial Asian cities and transnational Asian networks
  • The politics of calling ourselves Asian Americans and Asian Canadians: what does it mean to belong to America/Canada? does it mean that we’ve cut ourselves off from Asia?
  • The development of local elites in colonial cities and the new middle class in post-colonial Asian cities and transnational networks

Of course, all this thinking doesn’t mean I haven’t had time to rest; after all, thinking is best done when my mind comes to a place of almost-shut-down, and then the brain starts to kick in a bunch of random thoughts that (if I have the willpower) I get into my red field notebook.

What this means, of course, is that academic work is to a large extent contemplative work.

One thought on “Fall 2009: Notes on the Start of a Ph.D.

  1. Pingback: PhD Defence and Program Completion | Justin K.H. Tse (谢坚恒)

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