When my supervisors notified me of taking part in presenting my research so far in a post-graduate workshop, I was unsure. In the beginning of my PhD, presenting what I wanted to study was, as I now reflect, far easier than presenting my progress so far - my jumble of data, the work that I have done, my choices, my research, my readings, the ideas that emerged and the difficulties and limitations that at times make me question the validity and relevance of my research and my capacity as a researcher. Exacerbated by the challenges of the lockdowns that society has been confronted with due to the covid-19 pandemic, I wonder at all if there is a venue and value, at this moment, for the study I am undertaking.
Taking part in the IKD PhD Hub Workshop on Gender and Social Policy has allowed me to share my research to fellow PhD students, to researchers and to lecturers and experts who are in a position of experience with a wealth of knowledge that foster the discussion on my subject of study. I presented from my research so far, drawing from it to create a Powerpoint Presentation that illustrated my topic: An ethnographic study of female Overseas Filipino Workers working in Taiwan's Manufacturing industry. My study addresses a gap in the OFW and migrant transnational worker field - these women work in making things, in places of work that are highly industrial where they have been recruited en-masse in part due to their nationality (bilateral agreements between Taiwan and the Philippines) and in part due to their gender, I am investigating ways of coping, interstitial spaces and cultural hybridity and emergent in my study, the fundamental essentiality of the digital in their working and personal lives.
As I reflect on the transformative context of the lives of the women I study, I also reflect on the transformative effect of the seminar I took part in - some of my own difficulties have been reflected and I find that I am not alone in the struggle of writing a dissertation. Further, I find the fundamentality of the digital in my academic pursuits as well, for the virtual space of the workshop that contained, facilitated and made dynamic the presentation, discourse and exchange of ideas has made me reflect on my own digital life and the essentiality of this third space becoming social fact in our times. As I listened to fellow presenters sharing their research - Dr. Lorena Lombardzi, Sarah Hadfield, Celia Bartlett and Angela Collins - I juxtaposed elements of my own to theirs, finding support in my experience, theorizing and difficulties in their own. As I listened to discussions led by Prof. Nicola Yeates and later on Prof. Jo Phoenix & Dr. Ross Fergusson, I found myself reflecting on wisdom of practice and expertise honed over time and experience. At the end of the workshop I find that hope and motivation that just might get my work further, that what I am doing might be of interest and service in this challenging times.