Hi! So I am setting up an earth science, science communication-themed podcast called “What on Earth?!” with my friend Nuzhat Tabassum, a fellow geology PhD student at Bristol.
Despite how visibly prevalent Earth Science is and the impacts it can have on communities, it is one of the least accessible science. The school curriculum has very little exposure to geological studies and even among students that choose to study Earth Sciences at a degree level, the student population is not representative. Earth Science is just underrated!
So to address this, we will be creating a podcast that covers current earth science news and, invite earth scientists to discuss their work and their science topic. This cannot be done without your help!
Donations will cover equipment, recording and editing software and launching a website with our own domain.
Hello! So, you may or may not know that I like videogames. I play them to de-stress from the work but my science brain is always ticking away, so I like to try and find the science from non-science games (in the marketing sense). But, whilst searching for games for the serious game night at EGU, I found a little nugget called “The Geology Game“. It costs £7.19 and well, I am a sucker for a bargain.
So…after spending 4.9 hours (not all at one go) on it…let me give people a run through of how it works, its features and stuff and conclude whether or not it could be used to teach about geology!
First and foremost, after doing a little digging (pun intended), the developer is not a geologist and said they did just 2 months worth of research for this game, particularly on where each fossil/bedrock/mineral should be located. So take the information displayed with a pinch of salt!
First off, you choose a name for your museum, where it will be located and the difficulty level.
Next, you are taken to the screen of the status of your museum (left) and then the status of the museums you are competing against which are generated at random.
I am up against Israel, China and Iran. Four things make up your museum’s status (which starts off as none on a new game): income (the bundle of money), prestige (the earth showing the core…for some reason), visitors (ticket) and exhibits (dinosaur skull). This is all summarised in the top left hand corner:
You can also get back to this screen by pressing “U” or the museum tab. Press “F” to take you to your fossil exhibits, “B” to your bedrock ones, “N” to your collected minerals, “C” to your museum’s facilities, “G” to your geologists and “S” to save your game, load a saved game, start a new game or to the audio and graphic settings. Let us take a look at the different tabs!
The fossil collection is divided by the Paleozoic, Meozoic and Cenozoic eras and its various geological periods (click on the images to make them bigger to see). What I do like about this section is the mixture of fossil types, its not just about dinosaurs! Another useful thing if using this in classrooms is that if you click on an individual specimen (for all your fossil/bedrock/mineral collections), it is linked to the internet for links to find out more about it:
Next, this is what the bedrock collection looks like:
They are split up into igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks then their various subgroups. Nearly completed my igneous rock collection, must be fate. Lastly, we have the minerals:
At this point, I assume each of the three collection categories are split up the way they are not only for accuracy but also convenience…I certainly would not want to spend ages trying to find olivine.
Another tab is your museum’s facilities where you can increase the number of visitors and prestige:
There is a bunch of things to buy, but you cannot buy them whenever you want, you need to have investments to do so, they look like this:
We will come back to that later. Let us look at the perhaps the most important tab of all: the geologist tab!
Erm…okay it does look a little confusing. You start with one faceless, nameless, white (yeah do not think I will overlook the lack of gender and ethnicity diversity here) geologist with no skills. But as you progress by going to sites, successfully identifying and bringing back specimens to exhibit, you gain geology, travel, fossil, bedrock and mineral skills. Kinda relevant to some of the skills an actual geologist needs? Each of these skills highlighted for this faceless geologist equals tools (picture below) that I can use to access more sites and to identify new specimens. The catch is, my geologist needs to be at the museum and not off on fieldwork.
Okay enough of this…let’s go on a fieldtrip! This starts by going to the world map:
If you were just on your museum page, the map goes to the area where you are based. As I am based in London, I view Western Europe. You can see that China is visiting Scotland at the moment, meaning I cannot access that area. But nevermind, I have visited that area a lot in the beginning of my game! All my geologists are currently off in different parts of the world…let’s find them. You simply do this by clicking on your faceless, nameless geologist portrait at the top.
Looks like my geologist is still on his way to Madagascar, it will take him five turns to get there, so I cannot do anything at the moment with him. Luckily enough, I do have a geologist who is at their site:
My only faceless and nameless geologist woman has arrived at Deccan, whilst her college is still on his way to Sri Lanka. Anyway, you would need 3 maps, 4 translation guides and 1 satellite to open this site up. But instead of that, we will hop over to the last remaining geologist who is already in Iran:
Each site has its own relevant interesting geological site to ogle as well as sparkling unidentifiable rocks that we must extract our potential fossil, bedrock or mineral. Also note your geologist’s bag, I already have a few identifiable things in it:
To try and obtain a specimen, you first do this by selecting a rock, then make a note of the number of hammers in the corner of it:
The range is from 1-10, and the higher the number, the more chance of finding something…
…buuuutttt I found nothing. When this happens, just drop it. You can also increase your chances of finding something by writing field notes:
Okay let us try again!
Sweet! I found a fossil! To find out what we got, you need 3 screwdrivers (I think?) and 1 fossil kit. If you have enough, click identify fossil!
Nice! I have no idea what it is…some sort of elephant from the Cenozoic Era…anyway, you can either bag it or drop it. I already have one of these in my exhibit (identifiable by the “1” next to its name), but will bag it anyway. Let me see if I can find something I do not have yet.
Cool citrine! I know I do not have it because of the “0” next to the name, and also useful to know is the number of other specimens I have under the gems and precious metals section: here it says I have 8 other unique specimens. After you have filled your bag, exit the site (bottom right hand corner or press “E”).
Once you head back to the map, go to the top and click on the museum button. It looks like it will take 4 turns for a geologist to get back. Click the globe button to send him back to London.
Just press space bar and then your turn ends. Once the new turn starts, you get a mixture of randomly giving tools, or tools based on the skills your geologist who eventually returns back to the museum has. Once the geologist is back, go to the museum home screen by clicking on the nameless and faceless geologist’s portrait, the museum tab or “U”. Once you do this, click on a specimen and you will have the options to either exhibit or drop it.
Awesome, baryte has been added to my sulfates collection…one step closer to having it complete! With each newly added specimen, your income, prestige and visitors increase! One little annoying thing is that if one row of your collection is full, and you have found a new thing you want to add…you cannot add it without sacrificing one you have already. If this was the real world, I doubt anyone would want to drop anything new they found…but alias in this game I have no choice.
And that is pretty much it! It does get repetitious after a while, but there are plenty of sites to keep yourself occupied to learn about different fossils, bedrocks and minerals that have been found at these real life geosites. Would I recommend it as a serious game though? Hmm well yeah if you want to teach about the basics of geology and the types of sites you can find different stuff sure! The fun factor does wear off pretty quickly though, so maybe a few rounds in half an hour bursts. I would be interested to know if anyone does download and use the game, they let me know how they find it!
Building up a support network whilst being in academia makes the work more bearable. Not only can it help de-stress, but also help with workload, maybe even lead to research collaborations! This is interesting to see how organic theses networks can be, because in disaster research (and others) there is thing called “resilience”, and a social network is one measurement of disaster resilience. When disaster strikes, individuals, households, communities, even a whole country can gain help to recover with their network.Having such a social network in academia should not be any different. When things get tough, call upon your friends and family to help things get better! And it is a two way thing, if your friend is in a rough patch…help them!
These support networks can take on so many forms: going for a coffee, doing some sports together, a night out clubbing or going to the pub (and doing a pub quiz…or karaoke?!), doing literally any kind of fund activity you can do together! You build up a friendship and a strong bond 🙂 As a side: pets are great too!
The diversity of the group(s) and what you do is up to you. An additional group that could be beneficial to anyone is finding people who share a similar culture to you. That way, if you have moved to a place that does not have your cultural community, you make your own! My support groups include fellow PhDs and postdocs here in Aarhus, Denmark and back at Hull.
As well as offline, online support networks is great for connecting people around the world. These have become just as important to me, particularly in the volcanology community where generally we can be found everywhere…because volcanoes are everywhere! Most of my online interactions are through Twitter and Facebook. Sometimes we video call/Skype too! Conversations can be helping make sense of our writing we are stuck on, but most of time, it is just to hangout!
Being friendly, helping each other, championing each other, promoting, praising etc. based on creating a positive and strong team/research community, could be the starting point to making academia seem less “hostile” and the competitiveness less intimidating to an early career researcher. If everyone felt acknowledged and appreciated, not only does that improve everyone’s moods and attitudes to their work, but their institutions too. This in turn, improves productivity! Which could make REF, TEF, student satisfaction etc. better!
I believe that building up support networks, helping each other out, not only makes academia more bearable but improves productivity. Which brings me to pointing out some troubles in academia when it comes to pushing people out. If you are strongly opinionated (like me) or have views that differ from everyone else, they are either looked upon as inspirational, or as a threat. Even if your viewpoint is valid, it will not matter, because you have hurt someone’s ego. Ego can be a terrible thing. It becomes the case of “your wrong, I’m right”. Which should not be the STEM environment, we are all learning about the world together, not everything has to have a right or wrong answer. But trust me, that will not stop some trying to rain on your parade.
Throw in the competitiveness of academia, and all the intense stuff of academia I mentioned in my previous post, you could be pushed out. It sucks. That is why having both online and offline multiple support networks are great as a social network and in turn, your form of resilience. Or you know…maybe the person(s) you are working with are just total ********* and I have said that to many of my friends who have been having a hard time with their co-workers. Why y’all gotta be mean? We are all here to do science, LET US DO SCIENCE IN A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT.
But haters gonna hate, surround yourself with positive, loving and engaging colleagues, friends and family outside of academia and be there for one another offline and/or online. It has helped me get through rough patches without a doubt.
It may take a while for the “hostile” and toxic environment of academia to change, but building up your support network, do loads of fun stuff where you can, and things may just get better for us and our successive STEM generations 🙂
I suffer from stress and anxiety. And in academia, it has been talked about a lot recently, but it is not a new thing. It has always been there. From what I have gathered from colleagues and reading about it, it is due to a few things: 1) lack of job security; 2) limited support management; and 3) a high workload. In addition, particularly for early career researchers such as myself, it is uncertainty. I feel like although being super into historical and social volcanology, I have set myself up for failure because nowhere really wants to let me fully embrace everything I have learned. I want to stay in academia so I can continue researching and engaging, but it is an uncertain place. This is because my topic is super-niche. But of course, I do have expertise in other areas, mainly disaster risk/resilience/vulnerability. I could technically research any hazard I wanted, but my first love is volcanoes and the people that live around them.
Getting to research volcanoes for a living is not guaranteed when you get a PhD in it. This makes me uncertain in staying in academia. It makes me anxious because I have worked so hard to get here. This in turn stressed me the hell out. These cascading effects, on top of just the stress of the job, it is intense. You can reach boiling point and “burnout” real quick.
Of course, mine is only of one experience. Other people have children and way more responsibilities than me. So I can only imagine the added stress and anxieties that brings, when working in an uncertain, intense environment like academia.
I myself, being part of a big Caribbean family, I am attached to them. So I want to stay in the UK, and at least near one family member (for my undergrad I was near my mum, for my masters and PhD I was near/lived with my dad). I also need Caribbean culture nearby too, which has been an interesting experience being in Denmark. The main diverse group here is African, not Caribbean. I have done my best to combat this cultural-loneliness by cooking some Caribbean home comforts and just keeping up with calling my family.
Which brings me to another mental health issue in academia: loneliness. A PhD is a lonely process, despite being surrounded by other people. In the UK it is well known that every from young adults to the elderly suffer from it, it is an endemic situation. I am an introvert and most days do prefer my own company, but I am in a relationship with someone I would love to settle down with. But you know…the whole uncertainty in academia thing. As a British volcanologist, this may require me finding relevant work outside of the UK. This has placed me in a really rubbish situation: what do I sacrifice? My relationship or my career aspirations? This then, makes me more stressed and anxious. Because I do not want to sacrifice either one.
Having a life outside of academia is important. I have friends within academia I can just go out and do something as simple as going to a restaurant (and not talk about work). My friends, my family and partner outside of academia is also important too. It helps de-stress. Often, we experience guilt by not focusing on the work if you are having the time to relax and de-stress from work. It is the pressure of the job, wanting to do good work – be it research, admin, teaching, science communication etc. The workload, lack of support, strict deadlines, funding pressures and so many more…make us feel guilty if it is not done on time or not to a high standard.
A lot of these factors I have talked about, plus a “hostile” environment, measurements of performance such as the REF and TEF, sexual harassment not being taken seriously, lack of permanent positions, the gender pay gap and so many other factors, push people away from academia. I want to do research because I feel I am good at it. But then again, I look around and think other people are better. Yep, I am referring to “imposter syndrome” – it is like the peak tier of intellectual guilt. You feel like a fraud, it saps your confidence and self-esteem. Before Denmark, I shared an office with 3 other women. All different ages, from different countries/towns in the UK, and way different projects. But we still feel like one was “doing better” than the other.
That is why building up a support network – within your research team, department/institution, with people at other places, friends and family outside of academia, offline and online, is so important. It helps make the work more bearable.
I summary, personal responsibilities and academia pressures can make mental health issues hard to cope with. But, do not be afraid to talk to someone, be it in an informal and/or formal capacity. You are not alone ❤
Hello! This past week I have been curating the Minorities in STEM Twitter account, and I shared a few threads with followers. Monday, I introduced myself and a bit about my PhD work; Tuesday was how my Caribbean heritage and physical disability influenced me to becoming a volcanologist; Wednesday was diversity in earth science and Thursday and Friday was about mental health and support networks in academia.
I will be putting these threads into blog posts, so to make it easy for people to find. So first thread I will share is my journey into volcanology.
The journey starts with me being diagnosed with a chronic physical disability called Systemic Onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at the age of 2. I struggled to walk, had inflamed joints and terrible fevers. From 2 to 18, I spent a lot time taking medication and in hospital because I was so sick.
But I became interested in geography (particularly natural hazards at secondary school) and the sciences. My family would take me to places to keep my curiosity going outside of school. For the sciences, particularly biology, I was interested in it because I wanted to understand my disability. I was well known in my clinic to be the one asking questions. My former paediatric physiotherapist said they loved/feared it! And I say fear because they didn’t want to disappoint me by not answering my questions!
Being in constant pain has made me equal parts stubborn and determined. Going on geography field trips (and later volcanology ones) were and are a struggle. But if you love something, you put yourself through the pain and bare the consequences later.
As well as all this, my disability was treated with “tough love” in my Caribbean family (which I am sure it is not just limited to our culture) – it was all, yes we love you, we know you’re in pain but get on with it, you still got your brain now use it. Reflecting back on it, I suppose it was a way in investing in me: my disability may have hurt my body, but it made my mind sharp, and my family knew this! With Caribbean families, it is all about hard work, appreciating what you got and being full of love – since my mind was sharp, I had to put it to work!
By the time I got to go to Coventry University to study Geography and Natural Hazards, my disability was under control, and my family were proud for me for just going to university. During my course I learned that when my disaster management lecturer told us “it’s not a hazard without the people”, it was so true. So because I had become such a nerd for natural hazards, I studied both: the hazard and the people they impacted.
Near the end of my 4 year course, I knew I wanted to keep studying natural hazards but I had limited options. BUT then I saw some Masters programs for volcanology. I asked my family for some advice and then all the sudden they started telling me about this volcano called La Soufrière on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupting in 1979! I loved hearing the stories of Jamaica, so imagine when I heard about St. Vincent’s volcano! I was captivated, I wanted to know more about this volcano. So, I did a Masters for the sole purpose to learn about this volcano that had impacted my family and my ancestors. I was determined to do it for my MSc dissertation, so I created a project with the lessons from my undergrad and family in mind: it’s not a hazard without the people.
Independent fieldwork on St. Vincent doing a volcanic risk perception study was the best month of my life: I stayed with a family friend, I met family I’ve never even knew about, I met so many other amazing people, the weather, mountains, the volcano…everything about the trip was just pure magic. And of course…I got to do some science!
The dissertation I wrote was noted by the examiner in being “a novel piece of work, in which Jazmin drove herself”. And that determination/stubbornness, born from my disability and the encouragement of my Caribbean family made it possible. BUT I was not done! I needed to continue researching La Soufrière, so I applied for PhD projects. None I applied for allowed me to look at St. Vincent specially, and I got rejected. But then, my best friend talked me into applying for one more: the one I am doing now!
Following on from my Masters dissertation, I asked the simple question that opened up a whole new other world: “what did this look like in the past?” So I have ended up looking at three eruptions of the volcano: 1812, 1902 and 1979. I think the biggest thing I have learnt during my PhD about St. Vincent are the two groups of people that came before colonialism: the Kalinago (“Yellow Caribs”) and the Garifuna (“Black Caribs”). From this, I reached out to American, Canadian and Australian academics about “territorial acknowledgement” – where you state that where you do your research, and the land you occupy on, was not originally your own. Their voices are almost entirely silent from the narrative, and that really gets my goat. So, with my stubbornness, I have made sure I found as much evidence of possible of what happened to them during the eruptions.
What’s all this talk to do with me being a British-Caribbean early career researcher? Well…I’ve learnt that I am in fact, a descendant of the “Caribs” but unfortunately, I do not know which group. But, my PhD has become super personal and I am in too deep now!
In summary: my chronic physical disability made me stubborn/determined, my Caribbean family encouraged me to pursue my love of science. I carved out my path as a social and historical volcanologist with the combo of both with a splash of creativity.
So every year I say I should do more blogging…we will see how that goes. But in the mean time, I asked Twitter for some ideas of what to write and got this suggestion from my friend and fellow PhD volcanologist Geoff Lerner (he is doing some awesome stuff out in New Zealand, do check out his Twitter!)
So using inspiration from Geoff…I’m going to attempt to give a general overview of how historical volcanology works.
To begin: how did we come to know about the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius, and the destruction of Pomepii and Herculeum? The observations of Pliny the Younger. He was a man who lived in the distant past who observed a volcanic eruption. We also have countless volcanology studies about the eruption (and others that happened since). We also have unearthed archaeological sites and artefacts. Thanks to all this evidence, we now know that this eruption happened and its impacts on the surrounding society.
A historian is a person who researches past events that relate to humans through narratives. Volcanologist one way or the other look at past volcanic eruptions…so you could say we are “Earth” historians.
Volcanology in itself is diverse and researchers come from all different backgrounds: geology, petrology, geophysics, engineering, geochemistry – I labelled here a number of “physical” science disciplines. In volcanology we are increasingly seeing the inclusion of the “social” sciences when exploring the impacts of volcanism on an exposed population.
Historians use tangible (sites, objects, instruments, remains) and intangible (memories, narratives, indigenous knowledge) artefacts. So a historical volcanologist uses tangible and/or intangible artefacts to understand past volcanic events from the human perspective. For me, I have mainly used intangible artefacts, with written records in archives and interviewing people remembering an eruption. Archaeologists are particularly good at using tangible artefacts, with plenty of research out there of looking at deep past volcanic events and their impacts on early human civiliations.
If a volcanologist looks at past volcanic events, combining the understanding of how people responded to the event within the historical and social context, with the scientific understanding of volcanism, it provides a richness and numerous perspectives of the story of an eruption that may not have been captured if doing a single disciplinary approach. Looking at the past, we can see how much the volcano and the society that live around it, have changed or not. Further social volcanology studies for a given volcano would benefit from the historical perspective in this way. Furthermore, a “traditional” physical volcanology study would complement a historical volcanology study and vice versa. One or the other could find things the other had not found before, which could lead to a fuller picture of what happened!
So to end this post I have compiled a little checklist I have gained during my PhD doing a historical volcanology project:
Whatever “physical” science approach to volcanology you use, think outside of the box of how it would be beneficial to the society who has to live with the particular volcanic region you are researching;
2. This is important for every volcanologist – do your research on your volcano: its past activity, current activity, what signs and hazards it is known to produce and any probablitic scenarios of any potential future impact on society;
3. And now we take it up a notch: do your homework on your volcano in the context of the society who had to live with it. Here I mean the social and cultural significance of the volcano, what they knew and do not know about it, and perhaps most importantly (if using intangible artefacts): what language was used to describe what they saw and felt about the volcano? In times of activity would be a priority, but if you have the time (and money) look at quiet periods too;
4. And now, if you are looking at a historical eruption and you want to see what is in the archives* ask yourself: has the language to describe any volcanic phenomena associated with the volcano, similar or different to the present? You will need to be very aware that in the past, especially before the modern notions of “volcanology” as a science, people were very descriptive when observing volcanic activity (think “curtains of fire”, “it grew dark during the day”, “we heard rumblings” and so on);
*Using archives first requires identifying a collection: in most places this is available online, others it requires contacting the specific department and arranging a visit to see what is there. If a collection may prove useful, be prepared to go down some rabbit holes and not come back up for a while…it takes perseverance to find what you are looking for.
5. Be respectful of the words written/spoken, objects etc. of those who are no longer here. As a volcanologist, and as a scientist, you can interpret what was observed with rigour but never dismiss other people’s own interpretations when they were within the moment, observing a phenomena they may have never witnessed before. Like all disasters, volcanic eruptions induce stress and anxiety (usually temporarily, but sometimes longer), occurring in their own social and cultural context that is different from your own;
6. Be extra mindful when researching volcanoes in countries that were colonised/occupied. I say this because written records that have survived are usually of one dominant “voice” and many others have either been manipulated or silenced. For my investigations into the 1812 and 1902-1903 eruptions of La Soufrière, I found that the voices of women, children, African slaves, freed persons of colour and indentured servants were almost entirely absent or manipulated (the experiences of myself, my family and POC friends allowed me to have a trained eye to stereotypical/racist language and behaviour). I tried to correct this by doing my interviews for the 1979 eruption by including men and women of varying ages and ethnicities – remember: each voice who provided a narrative is valid as many people experienced these violent events with their own education, experiences and perceptions;
7. Seek out local historians, they may know information that you could not find. I have been in contact with a local Vincentian historian who has been super helpful in pinpointing locations that no longer exist on maps today – then of course give credit where credit is due;
8. Lastly, give back! I have used documents from multiple archives in 3 different countries, all have had a dedicated curator/librarian to help me find what I needed and are super keen to help in anyway possible. As a way of saying thanks and to provide knowledge for any future researcher, give a copy of your finished work to the archive you used. For public dissimination, certainly put the country whose volcano you are researching first – you may be as creative and collaborative as you like!
Historical volcanology has been a new and exciting avenue to me, I have learned a lot about the volcano, the country, its people and myself. I know people say “leave the past in the past” but how else would we know how to better ourselves as a people and know how far we have come in living on this dynamic planet?
To embrace the future…why not start with the past!
Hello! So its been a while…I thought I update everyone on what has been going on in my #phdlife
These past few months I have been focusing on getting drafts on my three results chapters.
Chapter 5 was the first draft I completed and gone through a number of revisions – it is focusing on the impacts of La Soufrière on the agriculture sector from the 1812, 1902 and 1979 eruptions. I would say this has been the most challenging for me as I had little knowledge on economics and dynamics of the colonial/postcolonial markets. Every new draft is an improvement though, I have certainly found some interesting sugar cane production figures from 1812; learning about the different treatments between small allottee peasants and estate owners post-emancipation for 1902 and how the 1979 eruption and contract farming impacted the banana industry.
The next chapter I completed to a full draft (and consequent revisions) was chapter 4. This chapter has been fun, its been reconstructing the three eruptions from various archive sources (letters, diaries, photographs and so on) and interviews (for the 1979 eruption). I have been making a chronological narrative and hazard maps from them (see below) and I have done my best to make the observations centre stage of the writing, with my volcanology interpretations after them. I am currently re-editing this chapter, and hopefully this draft will be as final as it can be next month.
The most recent chapter that has been drafted is my impacts on society chapter. This one has certainly seen the most changes in terms of its structure and what I wanted to say. The fact that the three eruptions happened at very distinct periods of societal development: slavery, post-emancipation and on the eve of Independence, means there is a lot to cover. And that has certainly been the issue at the moment…I have SO much I want to say! I will certainly need to be brave when deciding what to keep and what to either put on the back burner or put elsewhere. I have focused on the evolving risk, vulenrability and resilience between each eruption, and other topics such as how colonial racism hindered recovery in 1812 and 1902, and talking about the term ‘badow’ which evacuees created during the 1979 eruption.
Now that each chapter has been fully drafted, I need to start bringing it altogether, making sure my main themes/arguments thread nicely throughout. Still working on that. The biggest problem I have at the moment with my editing is that I am adding more in and not sacrificing any. My brain thinks that all of it is relevant. Not cool.
In other news…
Just had my 3rd year annual review on Friday…I was nervous for no reason as per usual. I think its because I am just becoming really attached to my writing now (a good thing and a bad thing) so I want to do well. There are things I need to work of course, but I am ready for what lies ahead!
Other big(ish) news is that I have moved out of the city where I am at uni and moved in with my dad up north. Its been good so far, sometimes isolating as I do not have other PhDs to talk to face-to-face (although I do skype with a friend if I/she has a research problem we can talk through) but I am managing. I have also taken up part-time temp work to keep me going for now…been interesting juggling non-academic and academic work!
Lastly, remember when I said there was a visiting researcher position I was applying for? Well…I can now say that the funding was accepted, so I will be heading to the University of Aarhus (Denmark) doing a mini Geoheritage project sometime next year! I am very excited to use my historical volcanology knowledge in a different way!
What is next?
Just got to keep on with the writing! And keeping up with earning money. And making sure I eat. And exercise. And socialise. And deciding when to go to Denmark and find a place to live etc etc etc…
I've only come across territorial acknowledge via Twitter recently. I feel guilty that it was only recently and not at the start of the academic journey. Although that guilt can easily be replaced with: why haven't I seen it talked about in this country? I mean…I have a few opinions as to why, but I will leave the politics of colonialism/post-colonialism to others.
I found a few sites on how terrirotial acknowledgement is approached by them (links at the end) and found that they were based on respect and building positive bridges based on the land they are living on. Although the UK won't be able to exactly do this, what if our research is in a country/region that did belong to indigneous groups before European contact? I would see it as a strength that we are trying to build bridges that we face up to our country's past, acknowledge that there were negative consequences and that we need to develop new healthier relationships.
Here is my acknowledgement example:
"This thesis has been conducted on the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, that once belonged to the Kalinago, who call the island Youloumain, and the Garifuna, who call the island Yurumei. They originally inhabited the coastal areas of the island however, due to British colonialisation they were forced inland and north near the volcano La Soufrière, in which unfortunately the original name given by the Kalinago and Garifuna has been lost. This has ever since placed the descendants of the two groups at higher risk of La Soufrière’s explosive eruptions. At the end of the Second Carib War in 1797, many Garifuna were exiled to Roatán, an island of Honduras. Exiled descendants now live in Belize, and continue to fight to return to their homeland. It is without a doubt, that the influence of colonialisation and creolisation has caused the indigenous knowledge of the island and the hazards that it is exposed to, to be omitted from written historical records, which do not reflect the enduring sovereignty of the Kalinago and Garifuna people. The island still belongs to them, but is no longer predominately occupied by them. The author has endeavoured to represent the groups’ voice in the narrative of this thesis."
Kalinago – displaced the Arawak in the Lesser Antilles, migrating from Venezuela (called "Yellow/Red Caribs"
Garifuna – runaway African slaves (supposedly Spanish) who intermarried with the Kalinago (called "Black Caribs")
I think it will go before or after my main acknowledgements. I suppose I am making the effort to do this is because I know my family and ancestors are from previously colonised countries (St. Vincent, Jamaica, Cuba, Cameroon and possibly India) and one thing my grandfather always tells me is: "We are Carib, our blood is Carib" but unfortunately, I do not know if I am Kalinago or Garifuna.
The acknowledgement humanises and lets people know you understand the past, present and future of the communities that were in certain areas before others came along. We should not feel ashamed in doing it and we certainly should not keep pushing some groups of people out. We should acknowledge the territories in which we live and/or work upon.
I apologise for the lack of posts…been busy writing away!
I have completed drafts on chapters 4 and 5, and currently working away on chapter 6. Chapter 4 I reconstructed the 1812, 1902 and 1979 eruptions of La Soufrière using archive sources and interviews. Chapter 5 was the impacts of the eruptions on the agricultural industry. Chapter 6 I am focusing on the evolving social risk and geoculture across the 168 years.
Chapter 6 is a bit of a challenge, but I have a lot of fascinating stuff to share once it all comes together!
In other news:
I have applied for a Visting Researcher position but I won’t say anything more!
I will be attending the IRDR 7th Annual Conference in July
I’ll also be attending a ‘Building Resilience to Geohazards in the Face of Uncertainty’ hosted by the Geological Society in September
That’s all for now! I’ll be using my new mantra to get through the next few months:
Because of the whole faff of the Oscars (honestly, why it was headline news I’ll never know), some may have missed something awesome: Mt Etna in Sicily started producing Strombolian activity at a new scoria cone at the Southeast crater last night.
Here is a link to a very stable live video feed of the ongoing eruption, the featured photo is a screenshot of tonight’s activity. Enjoy!