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The 8th OAP workshop : an ethnographic report by Gregory Jemine

Jemine Gregory – An ethnographic report of the 8th OAP workshop

Discover an outstanding ethnographic report of OAP 2018 by Gregory Jemine (on organizers request). “Is it really worth gathering so much people and spending so much energy into the organization of such academic events?” You can discover here the 8th OAP workshop through Gregory’s impressions, feelings & thoughts.

Some excerpts below:

« I was told, along with three other PhD fellows, to “tell my own story of mine OAP”. I felt that inspiring, as it meant relatively free, unconstrained writing – devoid of the usual academic restrictions and precautions. »

Why I do love OAP in 5 reasons  
« I think it might actually have stemmed from a combination of factors. I was having a very positive impression of the event:
  • the overall theme was very close to my own research interest (more than any other scientific manifestation I attended so far);
  • the colloquium was free of charge (which, as a PhD student with a limited operating budget, I really appreciated);
  • my two papers had been accepted;
  • furthermore, the organizing team had done a great job so far communicating and sharing details about the event.
  • Ultimately, I think the enthusiasm and the kindness from the organizing teams’ mails is what convinced me to accept to get involved ».

The utility of academic conferences : waisting time?

“Ever since I undertook my PhD, I was always doubtful about the interest of joining academic colloquiums, and I always kept mixed feelings, between the enthusiasm of communicating about my research and meeting people, and the deception of finding nothing interesting there and wasting time (and money) that could have been better invested somewhere else. One question that I could not answer thus far is, “is it really worth gathering so much people and spending so much energy into the organization of such academic events?”

Being critical: a “benevolence rule” in academic conferences?

“Something interesting occurred in the final discussion of this workshop. As Bernadette finished her presentation, someone asked the permission to speak. It was Harry, the architect who had lead the NWoW project at The Hague University. He wondered how came that educated academics, who “had the knowledge”, had “not thought about bringing in the process the people with this knowledge?” His intervention was rather critical (although very respectful).

I believe there is a general consensus in most colloquiums around “benevolence” or scientific sympathy, a shared assumption that presentations should not be welcomed by unnecessary shaming or harsh reactions. The reason for this might be quite simple: no one would appreciate to be humiliated in front of an audience of peers (…).

On the other hand, it also promotes the appearance of a shared hypocrisy climate – have you never had the feeling that, even if no one was speaking against you, no one was actually convinced by your presentation neither? – as well as a lack of confrontation and animated debates. To go back to the workshop, what was interesting was that the architect did not seem aware of this implicit “benevolence” rule – or if he was, he decided to commit to a more passionate debate nonetheless, which got everyone’s attention immediately”.



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