Archive for April, 2009

sound + university

April 28, 2009

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Upon the recommendation of Andrew, I purchased a Zoom H2, a wonderful recorder for novices who are interested in recording high-quality sound. It is light, easy-to-use and fairly intuitive. Plus, it comes with all kinds of accessories including a stand, 1GB SD card, AC adapter, USB cable, mic clip adapter, ear buds, wind screen, and cable. I purchased mine from House of Gizmo at Amazon for £149.99 and it arrived two days after I ordered it. I was really impressed by their fast delivery!

I will use my Zoom H2 to record interviews and sounds for my dissertation and podcasts. This week I’ll be interviewing Stefan Ecks, my former anthropology professor and Director of the Anthropology of Health and Illness MSc. Programme at the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Ecks will share insider tips on admissions, research opportunities, and much more, so watch out for my next podcast!

Lastly, I leave you with a sound of my gym locker I recorded. Enjoy!

snapshots of edinburgh: route 75

April 26, 2009

Andrew and I just went for a phenomenal bike ride around New Haven and Leith. This was our first time cycling together in Edinburgh and we had a blast exploring the city by bike. The trails by the harbours are especially scenic.

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Hurray for cycling!

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Western Harbour

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Western Harbour

learning how not to be too ambitious?

April 25, 2009

7971252_7e070ade7bOne of the biggest challenges of writing a master’s dissertation — or conducting any large-scale research project for that matter — is learning how to focus and choose a specific research object.

If you’re too ambitious, you may get overwhelmed and lost in an overabundance of ideas and end up writing something very general.

Even if you’re researching a field that obviously hasn’t been really researched, it may be too much for you to take on for a masters. If that’s the case, consider continuing on for a PhD. or a research fellowship.

The trick is finding a research gap in your field of study, but a gap that’s not too big.

Photo by Flickr user gapsi *your guide

faces and favelas: 7,883 words later

April 23, 2009

After three weeks of intensive reading and writing, I now have time to catch on email, my google reader, and this blog! Both essays went pretty well, I managed to finish both of them without pulling an all-nighter.

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"JR à Londres - JR @ London"

For the Cultural Studies paper, I wrote about the significance of the face in Parisian street artist JR’s work, focusing on his Face2Face Project in Israel and Palestine. Contemporary critical theorists, such Bernadette Wegenstein, that the face is now obsolete, meaning that it is no longer the primary signifier of the body and human experience. The face no longer colonizes the whole body.

Now, the body can be represented as just an arm or a leg. However, these body parts do not stand for the whole body, but are autonomous and self-reflexive. Challenging the notion of the “natural” body, advancements in technology and science have allowed us to think about and control the body in new ways. These developments have forced us to question the supremacy of the face and the ways in which the body is organized and hierarchized.

However, using the face in JR’s face as my case study, I argue that the face stills plays an indispensable role in certain cultural contexts and while other body parts may achieve the same level of significance as the face, this is only possible in particular situations. While we should imagine and use the body in new ways, we should also recognize its historical, cultural, and material limitations.

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"Favela Villa Canoas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil"

For the City and Its Others paper, I wrote about the spectacle of the favela, focusing specifically on the way in which pop cultural representations, such as City of God, Flickr, and even restaurants, reflect and influence our perception of the favela. I discussed how the favela is understood on a macro and micro level, looking at how it is situated in the discourses on slums and urban poverty, but also how its own site-specific cultural history has impacted its development.

While the favela is still viewed as a “marginal” space in classical urban theory, its status of “marginality” has been re-worked in new ways to promote the cultural products of this othered urban space. The favelas are often seen as on the cutting edge of culture, offering a multitude of opportunities for mass consumption. These pop cultural products have inspired many to visit the favelas, places that were once considered completely off limits to non-residents.

One of the most recent cultural practices in developing cities is slum tourism. Whether it is to have a more intimate understanding of poverty or a more ‘authentic’ and ‘edgy’ travel experience, touring the slums has become an increasingly popular trend among urban travelers. However, to what extent, is this practice ethical?

My paper discussed the way in which the spectacle produces and is produced by slum tourism, as well as the politics of seeing and visiting the favela.

Overall, I am happy with the way both papers went, but I am glad I can now just focus on my dissertation!

“JR à Londres – JR @ London” by Flickr user yoyolabellut

“Favela Villa Canoas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil” by Flickr user Philip Ritz

my new inspiration: trials riding in edinburgh

April 23, 2009

Love this video of Scottish street trials rider Danny MacAskill. Plus, parts of it take place at Edinburgh uni, wonder if I’ve seen him around. Enjoy!

how to shine in an interview

April 16, 2009

"My Resume as a Tag Cloud"

“My Resume as a Tag Cloud” by Flickr user hchen1

Check out these great interview tips! I was especially surprised by #1 and #7.

“1. Cover letters are worthless

If you think a well-crafted cover letter (or email) explaining your lack of experience is going to make you stand out, you’re wrong and shouldn’t even waste your time. With 100’s of people applying, there’s just no time to read your “pitch”. It’s all about your resume. That’s what sells you. That’s what gets you the job interview. (Although the tag-cloud resume above would probably not work for most jobs, it’s an example of how you can be creative and make yourself stand out!)

7. Bring a notepad

Very few people bring a notepad with them to a job interview. It’s a very subtle thing that makes you stand out. Take notes when appropriate.”

via Seth Godin’s Blog

cycling in edinburgh

April 10, 2009

152144483_7503b74572_mSeven months after my accident, my boyfriend Andrew and I finally put together my bike! Edinburgh is no Amsterdam, but it has a few good trails around Leith and along the old railroad tracks. Plus, it’s great being to explore Holyrood Park on bike rather than just on foot.

At the moment, Andrew and I are sharing my bike, but he hopes to get second-hand one tomorrow at The Bike Station,”a community project that accepts donated bikes from members of the public and recycles them for use by priority groups of people such as the long term unemployed, those who have been homeless and those with mental health problems. A proportion of renovated bikes are sold to raise funds.”

If you’d like to support a fantastic organization, as well as purchase an inexpensive, refurbished adult bike, visit The Bike Station on Saturdays from 10:30am-4:30pm. Kids bikes are sold from 2:00-4:00pm. Get there early, so you get the first pick.

Happy cycling.

Photo by flickr user psd

Update

Andrew still doesn’t have a bike! 😦 There was a huge line at The Bike Station, so by the time Andrew and his friend got into the store, most of the bikes were gone. He’ll try his luck again soon. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

the science festival

April 6, 2009

I am incredibly busy at the moment, so sorry if my posts are less frequent. Essays are pretty much taking up all my time, but I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple hours at the annual Edinburgh International Science Festival, ” the world’s first and Europe’s largest celebration of science and technology.” The Festival takes place from April 4-18 and features events in venues all over the city. I am hoping to catch these events:

Alternate Anatomical Architectures: Fractal Flesh Chimeras & Extra Ears

1234265754274An extra ear has been surgically constructed onto performance artist Stelarc’s arm. When electronically augmented, the ear will become internet enabled, allowing people in other places to listen to what his ear is hearing. Stelarc’s work explores and extends the concept of the body through human-machine interfaces.

7-8pm — Tuesday, April 14 — The Hub, Napier University

Bodies of the Future

1234266067990What do we want our bodies to look like in the future? How will technology shape our relationship with the physical environment and the multifaceted identities we create? A panel including Stelarc (Brunel University), Martyn Ware (the Illustrious Company), Andrew Shoben (Greyworld), Dr Jonathan Freeman (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Michelle Kasprzak (Scottish Arts Council), will explore the shifting boundaries between the technologically adapted body and the concept of self and the sense of place.

7-8pm — Wednesday, April 15 — The Hub, Napier University

The Richard Dawkin’s talk also looks really interesting, but unfortunately, it’s sold out!