[PhD Research Diary] First entry “Everything is connected now”

When you depart for Ithaca, wish for the road to be long,

full of adventure, full of knowledge.

from Ithaca (Ἰθάκη),  by Konstantinos Kavafis.*

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.05.09

Detail of The Siren Vase, an Attic pottery from 480BC-470BC (circa)

This is the first of a serie of posts I expect to share with you during the next three years of my life, which I will dedicate to my PhD research at the Digital History Lab (website coming soon) of the University of Luxembourg, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Andreas Fickers. And you are welcome to follow the outstanding upcoming stories in the tag PhD Research Diary.  :)

As all the new beginnings, this introductory post makes me feel a little bit self-reflexive. Looking at my life in the rearview, I would say now it is everything connected, from a very personal point of view.  The first time I got interested in the subject of Digital History I was in Europe, more precisely, in Italy (where the above pottery is supposed to be found), for my first study experience abroad, at the Università Degli Studi di Firenze. Now, I am back to the Continent with another baggage experience, and a slightly better understanding of the importance of travels for our personal life stories, and (why not?) for the “big” History.

I like that now, beyond be researching something that, I hope, will be useful to my colleagues working in the field of History in a near future, I will also be working directly with people, either because this project is also a public history project, either because I will be using oral history methods. Or, yet, because, afterwards, I hope my research can bring some effective contribution to the reality of so many people who have ever experienced what it is to be an immigrant. Well, it is actually bold to say that, but one can always dream (and I have some affinity with John Lennon).

I say that because, in this PhD, the investigation about the consequences of digital technologies, new tools and methods for the historiographical operation is not the unique propose of my research. Now, in addition to the issues that I was already asking myself in the last years, partly present in my Master Thesis, completed at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, I got many new things on my plate, just to mention a few keywords: migration, memory, oral history, public history… and all the whole new worlds each topic can unfold to me.  I am still familiarising with new literature and trying to find myself in this new scenario. I am curious and anxious to know what is to come. At the moment, the plan is developing a more detailed version of the research project Shaping a digital memory platform on migration narratives? A public history project on Italian and Portuguese migration memories in Luxembourg. I hope to have it done, including a research timeline and a well structure writing plan by the end of this first semester. In this meanwhile, there will be other posts here, but you are free (and I would be pleased) to send me questions, suggestions, critics or just a “hello/salut/moien!” at any time you like. I would really appreciate to receive comments and advice, specially in what concern migration History, Italian and Portuguese emigration/immigration to Luxembourg. So, please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or writing me an e-mail if you have an idea (all ideas are good, until proven otherwise).

Of course, all this novelty can be frightening, to some extent, but at the same time, it is so fascinating to have the opportunity to dive in a very different thing. Not to mention that I am changing too, I moved from Rio de Janeiro to Luxembourg Ville, I left my family, friends and cats, I am learning a new language, dealing with different weather, enjoying other landscapes, aromas and flavours… and this can sound hard, but actually it is way exciting! I have to grow up here, and this is probably the major challenge beyond everything. It is hard, but so good to go out of inertia. And, at the end, I think I am a lucky person: it is not so far from my family in Florence and, also for academic reasons, I have some very special people to support me in Europe at the moment.

Perhaps I should apologize for the intimate tone of a post that is supposed to open a new tag on my professional life (oh, that sounded philosophical!). But as I will argue later about the importance of seeking certain hybridism on the combination of historiographical traditions with the new digital history, here too I think it is somewhat necessary to think about personal and professional life together. It’s so difficult to separate the “Anita-Anita” from the “Anita-historian”, it is everything connected. I hope you do not mind. I promise, next time, give less attention to my personal matters. After all, you do not want to know, for example, how I feel having to turn on the heater in October. As my ex-supervisor used to say, sometimes I just need to remember that words are to say something, not “to flourish” it. Thank you, Dilton! Also that lesson you taught me, but you also taught me to be rebel, and here I am. But I hope, for this first post, everybody will forgive me, even Prof. Dr. Dilton Maynard.

*I could do anything unless remember Kavafis/Cavafy’s poem when I started to write this post, which in turn, reminds me of Professor Manoel Luiz Salgado Guimarães (for those who read Portuguese, see here),  whose work, teaching and passion for history inspired me a lot. He show us – the undergrad students at that time – this poem in one of his last lessons, in his last course. I will never forget. And this inspiration is undoubtedly enough to give me the determination to face whatever is coming, in the better way as possible, with a good feeling in the heart, and seeing things with good eyes, keeping Ithaca always in my mind.

PS: I have to thank my office mate Max Kemman for the brilliant idea of working with some music in the background. It was just perfect to finish this post listening to Caetano Veloso’s Transa, an album from 1972, when Brazil were under the military dictatorship, and Caetano had to spent some time in a political exile in London. Caetano was right, it is a long, long, long way.

5 comments

  1. I love your post! It seems so honest and you should not be apologizing for mixing up the “professional Anita” with the “personal Anita”. I think it is good for people to see that behind our academic mask are still real people. And of course, who we are (and what we experience) has a huge influence on what we do. If this wasn’t the case, we would never have to do discourse analysis. But that is often an interesting part of our work. So keep on being you and showing it🙂

      1. Hum… Yes, I am almost sure you would like to have access to Schannat’s blog post comment section if there was one. If he was talky like me, maybe he would had written something explaining why he decide to be a historian (I think I did it many times on the blog, not sure if putting always the same reasons, hehe). Anachronisms a side, that would be funny to see some kind of re-enactment of the RL in the blogosphere. Then, a propos, I need to get back to your post.

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