Written in third person, as I'm stealing from the King's Water Blog:
King's Water PhD Student Becca Farnum
gave a lunchtime seminar for the Intrepid Explorers group today.
Undergraduates, postgraduate students and researchers, and staff came
out to hear about Becca's time scuba diving in Kuwait and working with
hydro-diplomacy activists in Israel and Palestine.
asked "To Veil or Not To Veil... Is That Really the Question?" about
researcher experiences and values in the Middle East. Over
the last seven years of her time at various universities, Becca has
spent a total of about six months trotting between countries like Egypt,
Israel, Palestine, Kuwait, Jordan, and Turkey. Her visits have included
cheers of “Obama! Obama! America! Obama!" in Cairo’s outdoor markets
after the democracy speech of 2009, international pickup games of
football on the streets of the West Bank, and scuba diving in the Gulf.
They’ve also included evacuations to bomb shelters during the 2014 war
in Gaza, three-hour security interviews at borders, and cultural
restrictions on clothing and physical activity.
The talk considered the challenges – and joys – of spending time in
cultures generally misunderstood and overly stereotyped in Western media
and research. Using stories from her time in the field, Becca reflected
on ‘meta methodology’ issues, such as how to respectfully approach differing moralities, gender norms, or understandings of law and justice without
losing one’s own identity or being untrue to personal values.
Contemplating what it means to be intrepid, Becca de-mystified the
Middle East even as she encouraged the re-mystification of the familiar.