Once again: academics on one side, field staff on the other.

This summer, I participated in a conference on development and education in challenged environments in Bangkok. As one of the plenary speakers announced, this was the first event on the topic in Thailand and possibly in any ASEAN country.

I spent weeks preparing the presentation. Aware of the distance between my fieldwork site and the audience I imagined, 🦄 I did not want to risk improvising and losing the thread of the story, so I wrote an essay: title, text, subtitle, text, subtitle, subtitle, text, and so on until the six pages that some Googled site suggested for a 30-minute presentation were completed. At the end of the (re)writing and preparation process I was satisfied; the essay concluded by taking up the ideas from the introduction.

During the presentation, I followed closely the facial expressions of one member of the audience. Like an electrocardiogram, he started at medium attention during the description of the problem (the limitations of the fragile state category) followed by high attention during the description of armed conflict in Colombia (the longest conflict in the West) and a soporific drop in the theoretical framework (💤the state as an assemblage of control processes 💤). He came back to life at the findings only to die again (or perhaps just sleep) in the conclusions. The three comments I received during the Q&A session showed that the conceptual framework—the part I had invested most of my time in—had been overlooked.

The dissatisfaction increased when in the closing session of the conference a participant made explicit his discomfort with the use of academic jargon during the event. From his perspective, we academics had demonstrated, once again, our inability to speak to a nonacademic audience.

If at any time you want to cite the content of this blog, please do so: Rodríguez-Gómez, D. (year). Personal Blog. Recovered from: https://www.dianarodriguezgomez.com/multimedia 

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