I should have posted this earlier. On 5 April, at the tail end of my field work period in Hong Kong, I was interviewed by a bunch of people I had interviewed for my PhD project. They had all finished theological training at Chung Chi Divinity School (崇基學院神學院) in Sha Tin, Hong Kong and were mostly associated with a progressive church movement known as Narrow Road Church (路小教會). I made most of my interviewees, including the theologically and socially conservative ones, aware that I had this interview in my schedule, and most were fine with it, which speaks to a good level of civil discourse among Christians who might disagree otherwise on various issues.
I went to their studio at HK Reporter in Wan Chai, where they interviewed me for about an hour on my PhD work. We talked about practicing cultural geography, social conservatism among Chinese Christians, and the idea that Chinese Christian activism might take place along multiple subjectivities.
The interview is in Cantonese. You can hear it here. (Note: there are two parts.)
The comments are fun to consider too. The most frequent comment was that my accent is Singaporean and that the hosts had mistaken me for a joksing (“flying bamboo”) North American Chinese. They need to read my post with Schema.
I am open to engaging people from a variety of perspectives about these interviews that I’ve done, and I am happy to be corrected or given alternative perspectives as I develop my thoughts and write them up.
Greetings from Hong Kong! I have been here since 22 February and will be here until April 17 doing field work for my PhD on Cantonese-speaking Christians, their conceptions of civil society, and their concrete networks and political practices.
During this time, I will be interested in any leads on the following:
- How various churches and denominational bodies see their role in civil society
- Christian involvement (both Protestant and Catholic) in the Chief Executive elections
- Christian activism around “moral” issues, such as homosexuality and gambling
- Christian work in poverty, both in areas of charity and social justice
- Christians in post-80s movements
- Christian discourse around democracy
- Christian activism for and against the right to abode for migrant workers and China mothers
- Christian work in education
I am interested in speaking with pastors, Christian organization leaders, and politicians. I am also interested in gathering focus groups from the Christian laity. If you would like to speak with me, or know of any people with whom I should speak, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am returning to the San Francisco Bay Area for field research from 16 November to 20 December.
During this time, I am hoping to do the following:
- Finish key informant interviews at Chinese Christian organizations and churches that I didn’t get to in the first round this summer
- Conduct focus groups with Cantonese-speaking evangelicals on their feedback on what’s going on in civil society and politics
- Amass an archive of media(print and audio-visual) reports, city planning documents, and church records to help with my project
If you have any leads or would like to be involved, please contact me at email@example.com. I will be staying on the East Bay as a home base but will be able to commute throughout the Bay Area.
This autumn, a few things are in the works for the PhD:
- A new set of articles on geographies of religion and Asian Canadian studies, both theoretical and empirical: more information as these are submitted!
- Transcribing the interviews that with Cantonese Christians in Metro Vancouver and the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Focus groups with lay Chinese Christians in Metro Vancouver and the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Preparing for the American Academy of Religion conference in San Francisco from November 19-22.
If you’d like to be part of a focus group of Chinese Christians on social and political issues in either Vancouver or San Francisco, do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be back in San Francisco in late November and early December 2011.
GREAT NEWS: my application to UBC’s Office of Research Services ethics committee has been approved!
This is one of the interesting things about doing research in North America. Because of a long history of research with questionable ethics (largely within psychology), many North American universities have decided to screen any research involving human subjects. This ranges from anything including simple interviews and surveys to more complicated things like deception to get information (which I do NOT engage in). There’s a science version too for lab subjects and animal safety (which I also don’t do). All of this gets put under an umbrella at UBC called the Behavioural Research Ethics Board. I applied for clearance in human subjects.
My application was actually very simple because there weren’t too many ethical risks in my project to begin with. My project is very simply talking to people in interviews and focus groups, observing people at churches and organizations, and stuff like that. The key thing about this kind of research is that everything has to be up front, i.e. I have to let people know when I’m taping what they’re saying, I have to let them know that I’m a PhD Candidate doing research, and all the rest of that. As a very simple formality and also a common courtesy, people that I tape also have to sign consent forms that say that they give “free, informed, and voluntary consent” and that they know what the project is about. For the record, I use a digital voice recorder that records in mp3s made in Korea that I got from this tech shop in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong that just plugs into the USB port with a wire on my laptop. I use the recordings as another note-taking device so that I don’t have to scribble down verbatim what everybody says, and I transcribe the interviews and make sure nobody besides me and the person being interviewed hears the interviews or looks at the transcriptions (confidentiality MATTERS!). I always leave the recorder on the table out in the open, and I never tape secretly. It’s really just about being forthright that I am an academic researcher interested in Cantonese evangelicals. That’s not very hard to do, especially because I like the project so much!
The whole process only took about two weeks. I was put under the category of minimal risk and assigned for expedited review. This means that really, the project doesn’t have too many ethical risks. The key thing is just to be honest that I’m doing research. I think that’s what any decent person would do.
But yes, this means I’m cleared by UBC to do research. Vancouver, San Francisco, and Hong Kong, here we come!