This is not my first blog. But it’s my first blog under my real name.
What on earth was I thinking when I started this blog?
I had just submitted my doctoral dissertation. It turns out that doing a PhD is a spontaneity-killer. You’re not allowed to write anything that isn’t fully supported by evidence. And you don’t ever use contractions, like I’ve been doing in this post. One of my supervisor’s ongoing criticisms was that my writing was “too casual”, “too conversational”, or “too chatty” in tone. So I can now write like a PhD, but can I still write like a person?
And is it OK to write like a person on a professional, academic blog?
Hey! It’s time for a reality check.
This may be an academic blog, but at the same time, it’s a social work blog within an anti-oppressive framework. Anti-oppressive practice involves reflexivity, which involves looking at my own social location and subjectivity in a given situation. In this paradigm, we don’t believe that “objectivity” exists.
As an anti-oppressive worker, I’m also not comfortable with binary oppositions — Professional-personal. Objective-subjective. Scientific-experiential. Everything is connected to everything and the lines are very blurry between such categories.
So let me start this blog all over again.
In this blog I want to talk about things I’m passionate about that relate to social justice, activism, research, teaching, and related issues. Some of my posts will be about specific research I’m involved with. Other posts will be more process-oriented. I’m also going to blog about the experiences and events that shape me as a social work researcher, teacher, and professional.
I started out wanting to write with all the authority of a tenured professor! But the reality is that I’m in a transition between my PhD and academic employment. I have no idea how long it will take for me to find the right position, especially since I want to stay in the Toronto area. On top of that, I’m looking for short-term work while I’m looking for my dream job. I didn’t work last semester so I could fully focus on my PhD. Now I’m preoccupied with getting a job, any job, so I can keep paying the rent and buying food. That makes it hard to write brilliant posts about social justice when my real focus is on getting a job today or tomorrow.
I live in one of the poorest areas of Toronto, just outside Regent Park. Over the past 15 years, I’ve chosen to live in solidarity with the poor, which has taught me more about poverty than anything I ever learned in school. At present, I live in some fairly decent housing (for a change), but most people are very scared to visit me where I live. Living in low-income areas gives me constant material for reflection and continues to challenge my understandings of the experiences of life in the shadows of society. So my living environment gives me constant food for reflection, which nourishes my academic work. Being out of work doesn’t change that. I do have things to say about social justice, even at this moment in my life.
Whew! I’m glad I got all that off my chest. I was getting incredibly bored by my own blog.
I’m hoping that blogging will get easier now.
© Silvia Straka and A Just Society, 2008