An informal research journal

Thanks to the encouragement of some people I work with, I have decided to start detailing my experiences in blog form. It’ll be a good way for people back home to get updates on my activities, as well as the odd things I’m bound to experience as a Scottish immigrant to Germany over the course of the next three years. So here goes:

Who am I? Well, I’m a Social Anthropologist, trained in Edinburgh, and about to start my PhD at the University of Cologne. I’ll be doing ethnography of present-day hunter-gatherers as part of the project to reconstruct what is known as the first African frontier, commonly known as the out-of-Africa migration. I’ll be working with some computer techs on the simulation, archaeologists in the field, and modern-day hunter-gatherers in an effort to pick apart their experiences of migration today. It is hoped that my contribution of contemporary fieldwork data can be used to create a realistic model of the archetypical ancient hunter-gatherers. These will be the building blocks of the out-of Africa simulation. So there’s a brief outline of what I’m doing. I’ll probably start keeping an academic blog, too, with more detailed explorations of what I’m actually up to, but the main focus of this one will be everything that goes alongside embarking on a fairly momentous PhD project in a country I’ve never spent any significant time in before. More than anything, I hope this page will be less a research log for my work and more a field diary from Cologne. I already feel like I’ve got a lot to learn.

I’ve been in Cologne for the last five days to sign papers, visit my new office, and prepare for starting properly in January, and enough experiences have been packed into this trip to fill a book. What I’ll do, I’ve decided, is pick out individual instances to talk about, and post them as and when I can find time to write. Mind you, a couple will probably follow this one, as I make the time about twenty-five to six and my flight back to Edinburgh doesn’t leave for another hour.