OMG I have been awarded a Fulbright! Off to China for 1 year of fieldwork!

(re-posted from Cultural Bytes)

I just found out that I have received a Fulbright to China!

My proposal, Chinese Migrants Families in the Information Age: Intensive Technology and Digital Urbanism, has been approved for funding by the Chinese and US government for research!

The Fulbright require that researchers remain in the host country for at least 10 months. So I’ll be moving to  Wuhan, China next March to conduct fieldwork for 1 year. These long-term research grants are truly the research ethnographer’s dream; it’s a luxury to do really in-depth fieldwork and to be funded to do it.  Surveys and brief visits can give you insight into daily life, but relying soley on those methods does not get at the depth of everyday life and the processes that people are dealing with. 

So I’ll be looking at the socio-digital space for new ICT users in Wuhan. I want to find out how migrant families are appropriating new ICTs and how their ICT practices reflects the ways in which they are settling in to the city and making sense of the socio-economic changes in their lives. While most research on migrants have focused mostly on single or coupled migrants who intended to eventually return to their village, I see  a new wave of human mobility within China that points to migrants who move to the city as a family and who intend to stay in the city as a family. This new wave of migration is taking place in 2nd and 3rd tier cities (like Wuhan) that aren’t just economically open to migrants, but also socially and politically. I believe these understudied 2nd and 3rd tier cities are important sites of observation because not only are these cities projected to contain 75% of the growth in wealthiest families, they are also going to be sites of social transformations in China. 

I’ll write another more about my research in another post. I have some stuff up online on the research section of my website, but I’ve already started reformulating my research questions as I’ve learned so much more about what kinds of research is more valuable to industries and those outside of academia after these few months of researching at Nokia. I'll be updating my dissertation info here and check out my blog just for updates while I'm in China, Bytes of China.

Are you going to be in China in 2011? If so, let’s hang out!  I’m leaving in March 2011 for Wuhan and I am hoping to go to CSCW2011 in Hangzhou, China which also takes place in March. 

THANK YOUS! I could not have gotten this grant without the support of my amazing dissertation committee (Jim HollanRichard MadsenBarry Naughton, Christena Turner,April Linton, and Barry Brown). All my fieldwork experience and design technology workshop trials in Mexico with Barry Brown has prepared me to think about my work in China in a totally different light. Christena Turner worked with my grant and personal statement down to the last revisions, offering her brilliant insights and making sure that I included all the details about my own work that I had forgetten. Richard Madsen is the best dissertation chair any graduate student could have. Kenyatta Cheese provided so much help in making sure that I presented my work in non-academic terms. And Linda Vong, UCSD grant expert and Fulbright representative provided tons of insights into the selection process. Thanks Seiko for letting me read your Fulbright grant, and thanks to Melissa Rock and Marcella Szablewicz for giving me tips on the new abstract. Without Jinge as my research sidekick in China, I would’ve never ended up in Wuhan.  Thanks for the grant support from Nokia Research Center so that I can hire a research assistant and increase my scope of analysis!  Leah Muse-Orlinoff you rock for being a great friend and the best graduate school sidekick! And thanks to Manny de la Paz and the entire UCSD Sociology staff for their continued support! 

WAITING HELL: Oh and I must say that this was one of the most excruciating grant wait times I have ever had to suffer! Even though most of the Fulbright application process has been administered online, the notification letter was sent out via regular mail through the USPS. The letter was sent from the UN building in NY. But I had forwarded my mail from NYC to Palo Alto because I moved here to work at Nokia. While everyone else was getting their rejection or acceptance letters  I was trying not to obsess over the daily mail! I seriously was getting panic attacks as I was waiting everyday in limbo for what my next 2 years would look like while everyone else had already received their rejection or acceptance letters. I am so happy to not wake up with a 100 pound weight on my chest in the mornings.  If you are considering to apply for the Fulbright, I’m more than happy to share my experiences about the application process, especially for putting in a proposal about technology usage. I found it really difficult to access info online and to talk with people who had been through this process, and that shouldn’t be the case. Sharing is excellent. 

tricia wang