This has been my best term yet academically. I never imagined that I would measure academic excellence by routinely becoming confused in class because something we’re discussing is about something I already talked about in another class and the links between the two blow my mind. Between discussing memory as a social construct as applied to conflict and art and figuring out that the swarm of fruit flies plaguing my room were hiding in my bamboo plant and not, as I had initially assumed, in a two-day old mug of wine, my mind is just suffering one explosion of insight after the next.
This is particularly true for all things related to the illicit antiquities trade, conflict, activism, internet activism, blogging, ALL OF IT. The problem with my education right now is that there is too much of it and I don’t have any time to blog about the amazing connections I’m making between fields as I’m making them because there are more connections to be made before very important deadlines and it all turns into a big, knotted, twisty, crazy, complex ball of insight that becomes too much of a thing in itself for me to deconstruct it. At least, not in the couple hours I’ve given myself to blog. So, I’m just going to list some bullets of the most important parts of this knotty learning mess before more come rushing in.
- MY SENIOR WORK IS JUST SO COOL AND GOING SO WELL. In a nutshell, I am focusing on the rift between the museum and archaeological communities when dealing with ancient art/artifacts, particularly unscientifically excavated/looted objects. I will be using the controversy over the Smithsonian's exhibition of the Belitung shipwreck as a focus for how this rift is detrimental to academics and the non-academic public alike. Last week, Julian Raby, the director of the Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian, responded to my email wondering if he would be the least bit interested in talking to me about the "Shipwrecked" exhibition. Not only was he enthusiastic about working with me if the exhibition goes up, but he sounds like a very kind and generous fellow. I get the impression that he is a rare breed of museum director: not only is he very aware of the risks involved in exhibiting unscientifically excavated artifacts and willing to spend a great deal of time talking to concerned parties to see if he can make most everyone happy, but he was so kind to be open to the work of a lowly undergraduate student.
- The CAPA opening at Bennington was an incredibly exciting weekend and resulted and three things: First, me finding a new personal hero in author/journalist/human rights activist Rebecca Tinsley. Second, me writing a half-baked draft about whether or not internet activism is more effective than physically protesting because Vermont state representative Brian Campion thinks internet activism isn’t effective; PEOPLE. BOTH INTERNET ACTIVISM AND PHYSICAL PROTESTS ARE A MEANS TO AN END, NOT THE END IN ITSELF. BOTH ARE TOOLS AND WE NEED TO LEARN HOW TO USE THEM TOGETHER IN ORDER TO HELP THE SYSTEM WORK EFFECTIVELY. This really deserves its own post. And third, the introduction of infographics into my life: first there was Gong Szeto’s CAPA workshop on infographics, then today in my conflicts class, our librarian Oceana Wilson gave a talk on infographics/complexity mapping in relation to conflicts. I cannot stress just how much a) Gong should have a class related to infographics next term and b) how important a tool infographics is for EVERYTHING but especially for studying the illicit antiquities trade.
- My conflicts course, Solving the Impossible, is one of the most glaringly useful courses I’ve ever taken EVER. A post will happen sometime in the near future about finding vacuums in conflicts, and the vacuums I’ve discovered in the antiquities trade conflict that need filling by all of you.
- I am ¼ of the way done with my senior year of college. Nausea, again.
Now that I am halfway through this term, most of my research is done and I’m in my writing stages. Hopefully, I will have more of an internet presence and posts like this will not occur regularly.