On 31 March 2011, my PhD proposal was approved.
What does this mean?
It means that I’m finally approved to do research as a full PhD candidate. The human subjects ethics forms are currently being approved, pending provisos for a few clarifications on my application (but nothing substantial), but I expect those to be taken care of in the next few days.
What’s the proposal about?
The proposal concerns my upcoming doctoral dissertation research, which is due to be completed in Summer 2013. The working title is Religious Politics in Pacific Space: The Political Interventions of Cantonese Christians in Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Vancouver. It’s basically about how Cantonese-speaking evangelicals see themselves as involved in society in these three metropolitan areas. The basic methodology for this project is a global ethnography, a term coined by Berkeley sociology Michael Burawoy (2001) that refers to when social scientists contextualize their field work in larger global processes in time and space, and will mostly depend on semi-structured interviews with Cantonese Christian organization leaders and pastors as well as focus groups with Cantonese Christian lay persons. These interviews and focus groups will be contextualized by basic field observation, quantitative data from organizations and the censuses, and textual and media analysis of both Chinese Christian media sources and secular news sources. It’s going to take about a year, with at least three months in each site.
Can you help?
If you identify as a Cantonese Christian–or even just a Chinese Christian (even if you’re Mandarin-speaking, or if your parents are Cantonese-speaking)–or if you’ve done work with Cantonese Christians, I’d love to get in contact with you. In fact, even if you don’t identify as Cantonese Christian, period, but you wanted to get some of your friends involved in the project, please do contact me!
But I don’t like politics! It’s such a touchy topic!
THAT’S OK!!! I’m using “politics” in an fancy academic way–and I have to, because I’m an academic–to refer to when people get involved in their civil society. In that sense, a lot of things count as “politics” for academics. The way that I’m using “politics” is more in terms of social involvement; in other words, I’m interested in the constant conversation between Cantonese evangelicals and the societies they find themselves in. Yes, it could refer to electoral politics when you try to vote someone into that society, but it may be as simple as feeling like you want your voice heard in the broader society, or joining in a march or a protest, or making your organization or church more engaged in social issues. Or maybe you’re not interested in doing any of that–I’d really be interested in: why not? Basically, although the title of my research concerns politics, I’m just interested in how Christians who speak Cantonese think about and get involved in society in Vancouver, San Francisco, and Hong Kong.
What will happen to information that is gathered?
I will use the data I gather to write my PhD doctoral dissertation. These things are usually 300ish pages long. I’ll turn that into an academic book that will be able to speak to scholars in human geography, religious studies, ethnic studies, migration studies, political studies, and urban studies. I’ll also write some academic articles based on it. While these things sound so academic, they also form the basis for community involvement as well, including using my studies to help Cantonese evangelicals reflect on issues of faith and society and providing a fair and balanced representation of Chinese Christian churches and organizations to the media. I am very interested in contributing my academic skills in partnership with community leaders, organization heads, and pastors, and I hope that this project will be of use in both academic and non-academic settings.
If you want to get in touch with me because you’re interested, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at +1-604-728-0024. I’d be happy to hear from you!