Friday, 26 June 2015

PhD despatches: "The Away Day"

The PhD away day is, I hope, becoming a fixed event in the academic calendar for PhD students in Sociology at the University of York. The first event took place last year, where a department professor, Paul Johnson, gave a talk on the different CVs that PhD students will be expected to produce for their first academic appointments. After this, there was an event planning discussion which ended in me organising a series of lectures for PhD students in Sociology and Women’s Studies  (you can see the great selection of speakers across 2014/15 here and here).

This year’s away day took much the same form but with one notable difference – the presence of Women’s Studies PhD students in addition to those of us from Sociology which added to the numbers and diversity of research. The day started with a fairly informal first hour in the morning. We spoke about our research in small groups for ten minutes at a time, which each person sharing a little information before we were all hurried along to a different group to speak again. A useful first exercise to warm us all up for a day of talking, particularly given the helpful presence of some early career researchers who interjected with their own experiences. It was also a nice way to meet some of the Centre for Women’s Studies students.
"so what's your research on?" - photo from UoY Sociology blog

Other segments included a talk from Andrew Webster about writing a thesis and making it pack a punch (ie. having some kind of impact). His talk, inimitable in style, was quite compelling (particularly since he gave a way a trick of the trade – as an external thesis examiner, he reads the abstract and the bibliography before he reads any other part of the thesis).
Another small group session in the afternoon on the topics of teaching/research balance, writing up, and data collection gave some of the junior PhD students a chance to hear from the advice of those further along the path to completion, though I think the ‘writing up’ session would have benefited from a day to itself given the amount of questions and discussion points that us finalist PhDs also had. Given the breadth of relevance for the topic, it is certainly something to consider in some more depth for the future.

A big thank you to Dr Wes Lin and Alison Taylor for organising the event. You can read the official account of events on the UoY Sociology blog, which the photo also came from, here.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

University of Kent Law School - AHRC "Regulating Time" event

N.B., text copied from University of York Department of Sociology blog.

I invited to speak last week at an event at the University of Kent organised between Kent Law School and SATSU here at York. This was a workshop exploring the issue of temporality as it pertains to the creation of regulation (broadly conceived). 

In amongst papers about indigenous epistemologies of ownership and the US's electronic mortgage registration system (MERS), the importance of Greenwich Mean Time in the British imperial project of maritime sovereignty and modernity, I was asked to talk about issues arising from my own thesis. 

My paper explored how the public umbilical cord blood bank contends with the regularly updated professional standards intended to regulate the clinicians who use the collected tissue. The collection managers must anticipate future clinical need, typing and diagnosing tissue beyond current clinical expectations, and regularly appraising older stock. This anticipatory logic, as I call it in the paper, demonstrates the temporal rhythm of a repository of tissues collected in the past, maintained in the present, and of potential use in the future. 

See more info here: