Confinement in science #6: How does the life of a now confined social scientist change?

The life of a polar social scientist during the confinement period is not so different from many of my colleagues busy with more scientific polar matters. And it is true substantially, but also in terms of unpredicted limitations.

As a matter of fact, spending days in front of my computer writing my MSc’s thesis isolated from the outside world resembles quite accurately previous experiences with project-works to be handed-in too soon to take time to enjoy the spring-ish Belgian weather. Also, as my APECS colleagues already noted, I have much more time to read interesting papers related to my studies.

But the limitations of this condition are numerous. In the first place, as my thesis deals with the Faroe Islands, my plans to pursue field research through interviews and surveys faded away given the closure of borders and the impossibility of travelling abroad. So, this means almost no first-hand primary sources. Moreover, although home is still a good place where to concentrate on the writing process, the closure of university libraries is a great obstacle when it comes to consulting books. Therefore, the confinement period also implied a forced resizing of the secondary sources to which rely on.

If you are wondering how it is possible to still have materials to write with, that is the part that most amazed me. What I did not expect during last weeks was that people (from peers, to researchers, from professors to editors and librarians) were sincerely happy to help me. I was able to consult chapters of books, to ask for opinions, to obtain specific scanned documents all by contacting those available to send me such materials. Sometimes the procedures were a little bit more intricated than they would have been in a normal situation. But the empathic interactions I experienced and the genuine willingness to collaborate and advise truly made the difference for me. And this is something I would like not to lose with the lift of the confinement’s measures.

 

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P.S. That said, if you are looking forward to visiting the Faroe Islands as I am, then I am happy to share with you the magical opportunity to pursue remote tourism on the marvellous Faroese islands: https://www.remote-tourism.com/. Enjoy!

 

Written by Monica Gamba