PhD Update: Seminar Season

Supposedly, I am in my last year of my PhD-studies. That means trying to write up, conclude and present, present, present!

It is scary and taxing to display your work, try to explain three years of thinking and researching, including mistakes and weaknesses, but I feel it is absolutely necessary.

I have already had some aha-moments when rushedly going over my work again to prepare. As my brother aptly put it, it is like cleaning your house before the guests are coming.

Suddenly, it all comes together.

Study in Uppsala: Views from a Ghanaian

My friend Michael Boampong who I wrote about here and who blogs here, this year went to my Alma Mater, Uppsala University to do his masters in  Development Studies.

The university newspaper, Ergo, had a chat with him (in Swedish) (but see the Google Translate page in pretty decent English) and he had some interesting insights.

On comparing education between Ghana and Sweden:

– If you compare Ghana and Uppsala, you should think outside the box here, while in Ghana is more about memorizing things. I’m very happy with my studies now, but did not think I had enough knowledge about the political background to be able to take me to the teaching of beginning. I would have liked to have had an introductory course in political background before the first course started.

On Uppsala:

– Uppsala was my first choice, I had it recommended by a friend from Ghana who reads this.  It is a well-known university abroad. I think it’s very good to invite prominent speakers from outside and that you have access to literature and new publications.

On the much debated issue of fees for foreign students (yes, higher education has until now been FREE OF CHARGE), from next semester a reality:

– I come from a developing country and had been poorly paid when I worked in Ghana, simply put not the life-situation that is required.  But I must say that my experience from Ghana enriches discussions on the course – this can be missed when introducing tuition fees and not having an extensive system of grants for students from developing countries.

Read the article in full here.

>Dramatic Week: Nigerian Terrorist, Togolese Team Attacked and Oil Curse

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This week passed really quickly.

I went back to work, now preparing for the spring semester. I had one friend leaving town (bye Uli!) and one coming back (Hi Tuuli!). It is somehow a big relief that the holidays are over and regular life and routines are back.

But as my personal life settled down, there were some shocking news this week that I’d like to comment on.

The Nigerian Terrorist
As I am sure you heard, a man was caught on board a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit, US with explosives. Some curious facts about this incident was that he was on the list of terrorists, the 550,000 names long list. I guess that list was too long, but that wasn’t my point. He hid the explosives in his underpants and is therefore now called the “underpants bomber”, but that wasn’t my point. He was from Nigeria and started his journey in Ghana, but that wasn’t my point either. Yesterday, in a discussion someone said American medias found it suspicious the terrorist bought his ticket in cash. Ha! Last time I bought a plane ticket in Ghana I t-r-i-e-d to pay with a credit card, but was refused. It seems like it is a forgotten fact that many parts of the world runs stricktly on cash. There are many other things to say about this thing, but I’ll leave that to my fellow bloggers Oluniyi and Obed.

The Attack on the Togolese Soccer Team
The African Cup of Nations that is supposed to take off tomorrow, Sunday, got to a horrible start when the Togo national team was attacked in DRC Congo on their way to Angola. The bus driver was killed and at least two players plus two other people were injured, according to the BBC. They were supposed to play Ghana for their first match, but the team do not know yet if they can play the tournament at all. This was the main discussion yesterday night and our sympathies go out to our neighbors in Togo!

Investigations into the Ghanaian Oil Sector
The first investigations (?) into Ghana’s new oil sector might lead to prosecution according to the Attorney General, Betty Mould Iddrisu. Fear has been raised many times that the financial blessings that come with a big oil find, might be a curse leading to the rich getting richer…Let’s see, this investigation might be good news?

Hoping for less drama next week.

Pic: Closing the door to this week and stepping out into the next.

>A Degree in Digital Anthropology, Anyone?

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UNSPECIFIED - OCTOBER 10:  In this photo illus...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Some exciting news was reported by the Culture Matters blog today here and it is just typical. Only four and a half years too late the graduate degree of my dreams come into being.

Just taste the exotic words D-I-G-I-T-A-L A-N-T-H-R-O-P-O-L-O-G-Y ! Then imagine yourself reading exciting blogs and analyzing Facebook for a living.
Here’s some information from the lovely institution University College London (UCL) putting forth this “so 2010!” program:

The new MSc in Digital Anthropology–begun in the Autumn of 2009–is well positioned for becoming a world leader in the training of researchers in the social and cultural dimensions of information technologies and digital media.

Digital technologies have become ubiquitous. From Facebook, Youtube and Flickr to PowerPoint, Google Earth and Second Life. Museum displays migrate to the internet, family communication in the Diaspora is dominated by new media, artists work with digital films and images. Anthropology and ethnographic research is fundamental to understanding the local consequences of these innovations, and to create theories that help us acknowledge, understand and engage with them. Today’s students need to become proficient with digital technologies as research and communication tools. Through combining technical skills with appreciation of social effects, students will be trained for further research and involvement in this emergent world.

More can be found on the UCL Anthropology website here.

Too late for me, but maybe just in time for you?

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