On June 7, 2016, just under five years since I moved to Washington DC to start my Ph.D study, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation. It is entitled (in an admittedly straightforward but accurate and easily searchable manner): “LGBT Asylum Seekers and NGO Advocacy in the United States”.
Although the defense itself was predictably a little nerve-wreaking, I was grateful for the opportunity to present and discuss my work and found the conversation to be productive—a unique forum in which to think through and rearticulate my choices, analyses and conclusions. Asked by my committee only to add a few paragraphs to my conclusion, I was able to complete revisions swiftly and with pleasure. In fact, the entire experience of preparing for, carrying out and then writing up my research was on the whole enjoyable—at turns challenging and draining, but always stimulating. My interlocutors, mentors and colleagues helped ensure that was the case, and I’m extremely glad that I had them alongside me during various stages of the process.
Given the sensitivity of my work, I have chosen to delay its general availability by twelve months. Anyone interested in reading it can, however, drop me a line. I’ll most likely be happy to share it—with a few of the standard caveats.
So, what next? Certainly, I am not ready to leave behind the research realm(s) of immigration and asylum, sexuality and gender, or NGOs and advocacy. I have a few writing projects in the pipeline, and am beginning to plan for future research on sexuality and migration, and on immigration detention. I’m also continuing to work with the LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network and engage with other organizations and individuals working for LGBT asylum seekers’ rights and freedoms. All being well, I’ll post updates on those activities over the coming months.
Finally—but most exciting of all—I will also be teaching four courses over the upcoming academic year: a graduate-level anthropology class at American University and, at Georgetown University, a variety of undergraduate courses in the Women and Gender Studies Program. In this election year, I suspect that Washington DC will loom larger than ever in my classes regardless of my syllabi—hopefully providing scope for critical engagement with government policy where relevant. Each class will provide different challenges, and overall I look forward to engaging with my students on a wealth of themes. AY2016-2017, my first with three letters after my name, promises to be as rewarding as the last.