Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm back.

It's been almost year since I last wrote and now I'm back in Jerusalem to do fieldwork for my master's degree inAnthropology. My topic is embodied perceptions of safety and danger among families in the German Colony in Jerusalem. So far, however, the most dramatic things that happened have been a mega thunder storm and I got sick.

The picture to the left, by the way, is the entrance of the old Arab house in which I'm living. It was taken over by the Israeli government in connection with the 1948 war and was used as a police station. It has since been sold to private citizens. Very apropos.

So, I've been chained to my bed and have only had a chance to talk to my flat mates who certainly have some interesting perspectives on the topic. It seems that their current perceptions are directly and most personally connected to the second Intifada which is still fresh in their minds - with all the technicolor you can imagine. It ended about five years ago. There have been some gruesome talks around the kitchen table while I sipped my tea and tried to remember what they were saying, despite my fever.

Otherwise, there are some boring, practical things that need to be taken care of, like getting health insurance (done), buying a dictaphone, and trying to finagle an academic affiliation with Hebrew University. I haven't much to report yet. My Hebrew is slowly coming back and I've had hummus.

My project this time is radically different from when I was here last last year. My time was very structured through the university and the research that I did "on the side" (it was a big project), was for an organization, so the guidelines were given there, too. This time, the only structure is the one that I create and it's a bit daunting - especially when my sore throat has kept me inactive. What I need to do is establish contact with local families. I have made preliminary contact with the community center here, which has a program for teenagers, so that could be useful and otherwise I'm leaning on the local contacts that I have from my time here last year who have expressed willingness to help me.

One of the stumbling blocks I may run into is the fact that some people may not want to talk about the conflict. It seems to be important to get on with things and not always live in fear. So, if it's possible to put on blinders, then people do it. This is quite a feat, considering that in the area where I am, East Jerusalem, refugee camps and all that goes with them is only a few - I'd say ca. 5 - kilometers away. So, I will have to dig through some layers to get to the information I want. And the fact that denial is so rampant and clearly a necessary coping technique, is interesting in and of itself.

I'll be reporting on my adventures here, but because the data I'll be collecting is personal, I won't be discussing it directly on the blog. I'll let you know where you can buy my thesis though...:-)

I'm hoping that I'll be ready to roll by sunday. But as always, questions and comments are welcome.

1 comment:

dizzy said...

Can we also send kisses and hugs and virtual chicken soup?