Thursday, June 15, 2006

So what is your research about?

What is the first question you ask someone you just met? in many places it's 'Where do you come from?" or "what do you do?" or "where do you live?". In academic conferences, however, the first question is "so what is your field of research?" and then "what period exactly?". I was asked this question dozens of times the last few days, and of course I asked them. People often find my speciality obscure or strange, which I actually find beneficial. But I thought I can start making up themes, just to make it more interesting:

I am researching camel castration practices in Fatimid Egypt.

My study is on pre-Islamic Iraqi transvestites.

I'm looking at proverbs regarding belly-buttons in non-Muslim communities of the levant.


Today there was an interesting envrionemental panel on Egypt, on water problems and the reclamation of the desert. And it reminded me that the real issues are waiting behind the corner. Within twenty years - or forty, or ten - all the issues we discuss today will be largely irrelevant. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not interest anyone in a world without oil, without water and with a serious climate change.

But in the meantime, why not pass the time and have some fun. So what did you say your research is about?

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