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22 March 2012

Keeping One's Feet on the Ground(ed Theory)

A quick note from Southerns. I showed up to the conference this morning to check in and got discouraged. I half overheard a young woman--presumably a graduate student--explaining her research to some other people whom, it was evident, she didn't know all that well. It was classic boundary work. It bothered me though, as that kind of talk always has, because it was so self-important. This woman was studying some niche area with some obscure method and talked about it in the way that a conquistador would have talked about discovering some hidden corner of the New World. I understand it; it's simple self-preservation, but that doesn't make it any more palatable. I think that all academics need to remind ourselves about the context of our own work. We should absolutely champion our efforts, but we should also keep them in perspective.

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