Just got the news: after a month more deliberation than required by my actual dissertation committee, the HRRC Committee (that is the committee that determines if my research will be ethical towards those whom I will be researching) has finally belatedly given their approval to my dissertation proposal! This means after nearly a year and a half of my writing, researching, engaging in random required effort, more writing, angsting and panicking, even more writing, leaping through flaming hoops of paperwork, and yet more writing… I am now officially ABD (All But Dissertation) — and allowed to actually start work on my dissertation!!



Break out the confetti — it's a miracle! :-D


31 Oct 2015 In: Costumery, Random, Wonderful pets!

Hallowe'en silliness because I can; because Goldie is both patient and a delight to work with; because it's fun to dress up; because why not? :)

My ATS bellydancing class was a blast this morning! On the way to class I heard Alice Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare" and a version of "I Put A Spell On You" and something new to me: the "Monster Hash." In class we continued the joyful holiday silliness, of course — we danced to "Thriller" and to "Swing Swing Swing" and to "This is Halloween" from The Nightmare Before Christmas and to other more, um… standard bellydancing fare. Oh, and we also celebrated the birthday of one of my dance sisters. It was really wonderful!

So after ATS bellydancing today my housemates and I went to breakfast at a lovely restaurant that has both a porch, and people who love dogs that work there. They know us there by now, and think Goldie's just a sweetheart — which of course simply shows how perspicacious they are, right? So for fun I tossed on some bits & bobs to make an impromptu costume for us both: La Zorra in her everyday gear — and her brilliantly disguised horse Tornado!



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Last three titles of my ten most influential books and articles which helped shape my thinking regarding feminism and the human community — woo! Got it posted at a reasonable hour, too! :)


8) Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas by Barbara Alice Mann

I loved this book! It's so refreshing to read excellent research that simultaneously recognizes and refuses the Western fallacy of the disinterested, distanced researcher. The author, Ohio Bear Clan Seneca and professor Barbara Alice Mann, successfully interweaves Western scholarly research with a powerful native perspective — the Iroquoian Story Keeper's style of oral record — to produce a narrative which is at once rigorously researched, richly threaded with humor, and a fascinating read.

Mann explains the profound influence and direction of Iroquoian women in the politically consensus-seeking, economically gift-oriented, socially egalitarian, and spiritually feminine divine Iroquoian social realm, through chapters which explain the culture's social conceptions of balance. Strikingly, Mann also traces the slow erosion of women's rights, duties, and honors through the often violent influence of the two Western "religions" of capitalism and Christianity — including how modern Western research wipes women clean from the record. Despite the horrifying record of Western atrocities, however, the author's interjections of dry humor make this a profoundly hopeful work, offering the unique template of a far more egalitarian and widely distributed matriarchal society than is ordinarily available for modern study and learning. Check out my quickie review here!

9) "An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender: The Unlikely Case of Offshore Oil Platforms" by Robin J. Ely & Debra E. Meyerson

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Whoops! Finishing off the list of my ten most influential books and articles which helped shape my thinking regarding feminism and the human community took a bit longer than expected. Life intruded — mea culpa! So, continuing with #4…

4) "En'owkin: Decision-Making as if Sustainability Mattered" by Jeannette C. Armstrong

This article was personally revelatory for its explanation and implementation of a community ethos which believes everyone is important — rather than just the majority. It is the results of such an attitude which most move me to excitement, as I note in the description of the book I posted on my blog (check the second half of the posting; the first half is about a different article). Here's a great quote from the article itself:

I have noticed that when we include the perspective of the land and of human relationships in our decisions, people in the community change. Material things and all the worrying about matters such as money start to lose their power. When people realize that the community is there to sustain them, they have the most secure feeling in the world. The fear starts to leave, and they are imbued with hope (16-17).

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Woohoooo! Current scoreboard in the Collie's advancement to dissertation candidacy game:

  • HRRC approval (as in: the ethics committee): a decision is promised to me by the end of the month at latest, and…
  • Dissertation committee approval: three out of three — DONE!! :-D

I'm getting very excited about this — it's so wonderful to see what was just a rather nebulous dream starting to shape up into something very real and doable by me! I'm so close I can almost taste it! :)

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

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Another 'squeeeeeee!' moment for me this morning! I opened my email inbox to discover that my second (of three) committee members has approved my proposal — woohooo! Lots of really great suggestions and critiques too, which are both really helpful and a relief to receive — that tells me that my proposed research actually engaged my readers! Also lovely and encouraging was her email to me, in which she said:

It was a pleasure reading your proposal, which I just finished.… You write very well, and have clearly given this much thought.

Equally exciting were some of her notes on the dissertation proposal itself, such as: Read the rest of this entry »

Eeeeeeee! I am SO pleased — just got the email from my dissertation committee chair that she's passing my dissertation proposal on as acceptable! Now I can send it on to my other two committee members — and soon: ONwards to dissertation researching and writing! :-D

Also extremely exciting is what the Chair wrote in her email to me — lovely things that reassure me that I'm not a failure at having taken so long to get this thing done! A few very nice lines that have me doing the happycolliedance:

You've done some exceptional work here!

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I have been fortunate, over the years of my post-grad work, to have had some truly exceptional and deservedly renown professors. Some of my proudest memories, in fact, are when one or the other of them would praise my work – that was quite exciting! Frankly, I suspect it always will be, as these are all brilliant and perceptive women. I would be utterly thrilled to find out, years from now, that my writing was even half so good as some of theirs! Amazing authors and visionaries such as Vicky Noble, Judy Grahn, Marguerite Rigoglioso, Charlene Spretnak, Carol Christ, and more have been a major part of growing and encouraging my thinking. I'm exceptionally pleased I could take classes from those five in particular, and very proud that they thought my thinking and writing was and is worthwhile. Judy Grahn in particular urged me to continue my work, especially when she said to me something along the lines of, "You're so smart, Collie! Why don't you challenge yourself more?"

Ouch. ;)

She's right, though. There have been many times when it was just easier to turn in the swiftly written paper just like everyone else's, knowing it was only average work on my part — rather than really searching or digging deep for something more thoughtful and/or unique.

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Just as the worrying realities of Field notes on disturbing ethical questions, part 1 are starting to really register as I read, there's a quote in the book that hits me hard:

Because feminism has challenged the pose of neutrality and objectivity that for so long governed positivist social science, it has forced us to scrutinize our own practice as scholars. . . . Is it possible — not in theory but in the actual conditions of the real world today — to write about the oppressed without becoming one of the oppressors? (139)

I'm not trying to rank oppressions here or anything… I'm just a little spooked. I want to do a good job on my research, and to write a dissertation that is of some value in the world… but I also already know good intentions aren't enough. I'm familiar with the SWG ("Silly White Girl") designation — a sometimes whimsically foolish white girl who really doesn't understand the realities of life for women of color, and probably doesn't want to. I'd like to not be that person… but in doing research I know I can't just shyly hush up so I don't say anything stupid. Further, I'm pretty sure pretending to just stay "neutral" or "objective" is taking the easy and emotionally cowardly way out — especially when the book mentions some worrying questions: Read the rest of this entry »

I'm eating lunch and reading one of my methodology books and scaring myself. It's Feminist Research Practice: A Primer, 2nd edition. Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber is the editor. Don't get me wrong — it's an excellent book full of really well-written articles on precisely the things I should be considering in order to write a good dissertation proposal and, later, a really useful and productive dissertation. Also, it's not like I didn't already know some of this, going into this dog-and-pony show. Ethics, for example — I've taken good sociology courses where the professors (rightly) emphasized repeatedly that the First Commandment of Sociology was "Thou shalt do no harm!" That being said… it's one thing to know there are ethical issues I may have to face — and another entirely to realize they could potentially entirely derail my research.

Ethics are huge for me for a simple reason: as a member of academia, what I write will to some degree define my subject. If the subject were inanimate I wouldn't worry so much — but it's not. These will be real, live, breathing, joy- and pain-feeling people that I will be interviewing. What if I decide what they're saying means one thing… but what they meant was something else entirely? My work will fail or succeed due as much to their efforts and kindness as due to my work. How can I properly thank them? What responsibility do I owe them in my writings?

Here's an example which I wish were entirely fictional, though it's not — it is based somewhat on reality (and yes, things are somewhat better than this today; and yes, not all male researchers are like this example… but unfortunately some still are). Let's say the male ethnographer goes to another city and wishes to research how a subaltern culture there lives. Let's say also that the woman who leads that subaltern culture courteously welcomes him, showing him around and introducing him to everyone there so he can interview and observe them — because they all wish for their subaltern culture to be known to the world. They're all very helpful and friendly, opening their homes and hearts to the male ethnographer.

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Bestiaries depict mythical, moralizing animals, but are also potential allegorical sparks that can bloom into brilliant mental bonfires. My bestiary is this mythologizing animal's fascinated exploration of beauty & meaning in the wonder of existence -- in the hopes of inspiring yet more joyous flares of intellectual passion.

Help yourself & me too!

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Collie’s Bestiary