Preliminary Fieldwork in Redfern and Waterloo

I am thankful that I had 15 days to conduct fieldwork in Sydney in August. While the majority of my dissertation fieldwork will take place over 9-12 months (hopefully starting in late Fall 2019), this trip was combination pilot study (to test potential validity of my site) and a preliminary dive into ethnography and interviewing. Some days though, I did have time to explore the citIMG_1415y and really “learn” my site in a way that is only possible through firsthand experience. Thankfully, another visitor to Circular Quay was nice enough to snap the photo to the left of me!

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Learning Sydney: Round 2

Since my inaugural trip to Australia last May/June, I’ve written my thesis and earned my master’s degree in Anthropology. The title of my thesis is The Gap on the Block: Subjectivity, Aboriginality, and Agency in Contemporary Urban Australia. My thesis explored the construction and maintenance of an Aboriginal subjectivity in a inner-city suburb (similar to our city neighborhoods in the States) of Sydney known as Redfern.

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Politics, Parliament, and Anthropology: Canberra

Stepping off the train in Canberra was quite daunting after the experience of Sydney. Canberra is much smaller and serves as the political hub of Australia. Fortunately, because it is the nation’s capital, the public centers (museums, government buildings, archives) are incredible. My first day in Canberra consisted of riding a bicycle to the National Museum of Australia, located on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin.

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Finding a Research Foundation in Sydney

After spending weeks stressing about how I would spend my first summer as a graduate student, I ended up with several options that I thought were reasonable and would lead me in a fruitful direction. These plans included myriad internships for grassroots organizations in San Francisco, a volunteering opportunity with a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Ecuador, and spending time trying to hone in on a research topic for my upcoming thesis. I spoke with my advisor, who upon first hearing these options told me that any of them would be fine; however, she boldly instead encouraged me to begin trying to travel to Australia for the summer. After all, Australia is where I want to ultimately conduct research and I had yet to visit the country. This suggestion both terrified and excited me and served as the impetus for my maiden voyage down under.

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