Since my last post in March, life has been a whirlwind of thesis-writing, thesis-editing, unplanned grad school applications, social media neglect, undergraduate graduation, grad school rejection/acceptance, conference prep, and crazy weekend travel to Europe. Not coming back to blogging sooner partly has to do with temporarily forgetting how to write for non-thesis/presentation purposes, but mostly to do with the crazy number of events, landmarks, and decisions that have been packed into the last three months.
Donna Yates, I applied for a PhD scholarship being offered in conjunction with the now famous University of Glasgow trafficking culture study. My humble expectation of being rejected wasn't entirely off; I didn't get the scholarship, but, to my honor and surprise, the selection committee thought my proposal was pretty cool and told me so. Simon Mackenzie sent me the best rejection letter of my life and invited me to do an MRes in Criminology with them before pursuing a PhD. 48 hours of feverish calculations later, I said yes. And not just because the opportunity was being handed to me/smacking me in the face and I realized that I could afford it.
If this opportunity had not arisen, I would most likely have spent the next year working a crap job, saving money, and applying to cultural heritage grad programs with the uneasy suspicion that someday, I would have to choose sides between archaeologists and museums. Because my work has increasingly focused on how to bring the two sides of academia together, choosing between the two is the last thing I want to do. Going the criminology route had not occurred to me until Simon suggested it, and in retrospect it seems kind of dumb. After letting the duh-ness of it sink it, this feels like the most natural and obvious direction for my research interests. Through criminology, I can approach the multi-party conflict over the illegal trafficking and display of looted artifacts from a much more neutral position and with a great deal more information about how to approach a multi-party conflict in the first place. Not only that, but the people I'll be working with at Glasgow are already super welcoming and supportive. Coming from a really small school where it's not uncommon to cry in front of/with your advisor and students and faculty are all on a first-name basis, it was important to me to find a program that would offer the same kind of one-on-one support and possibility for really meaningful scholarship and collaboration. Glasgow seems to have a close-knit, small-town-vibe despite being a big city uni, and I could not be mored excited about joining them this September!
But what does that mean for this blog? I have always intended Things You Can't Take Back to be primarily for college students finding their way into these issues, and me being a grad student won't change that goal. However, it will change how I approach that goal. Now that I'm graduated and have the benefit of hindsight as well as more sophisticated resources and connections, I hope to do a much better job of actually reaching college students and communicating the issues in a way that impassions them and encourages them to find a career in this field. Some changes and additions to the resources on this blog will be taking place over the next couple months, hopefully to find some equilibrium by the time I start going crazy again with school.
Keep an eye out this week for my perspective on the amazing time I had at the ARCA conference this past weekend!