Curious updates, nuanced feelings from Barcelona

Dear friends,

I hope you’re all reading this post in good company, or good spirits. I’m writing you from Barcelona, Spain, where I’m spending the last bit of vacation before I return to London to pack my things up and head home for a couple of weeks. I am, however, leaving a significant amount of items and clothes in London, as I plan on returning to the city, or at least this part of the world, in one year’s time. The goal for my future is to start a PhD in the fall of 2019, preferably at a UK or German institution, combining philosophy, health, international development, and migration (a bit wide-ranging, but I’ll find a way to make it work). I also hope to continue a career in music outside of my work and studies, and I see the European region being really conducive to fitting my combined interests well.

As for the next year, I’ve been able to secure funding for a research project in San Salvador, El Salvador. I will be working at a human rights organisation, Cristosal, conducting (or moreover learning how to conduct) a research project to study health access for internally displaced peoples, those who are displaced by ongoing violence (domestic, police, gang, etc.) in the city. This opportunity has worked out perfectly, for I can combine what I’ve learned from theory in political philosophy and ethics into a practical setting. I see El Salvador as a place where human rights do not exists only for the elite liberal thinker to ponder upon, but instead for the people to utilise out of pure necessity. This project will last about ten months.

I’m not sure when I’ll be turning this blog over, but it will be soon. As such, I’ve created a new blog on my own site, so you can follow writings that may be similar to what I’ve written here at: https://curiouschroniclesest2018.wordpress.com. It took me a while to come up with the title, The Curious Chronicles, but I think this is a good way to show that my writings will tell not only a story but try to offer insights (perhaps even philosophical insights) into my experiences as I reflect on what I’ve been through and what I will have been currently going through. I’m sure that ample thoughts will be bubbling up from inside even months after I leave London, especially if those thoughts are instigated and poked by the raw and experiential times that I may be having in San Salvador.

Although sharing my location on social media is a bit dangerous, I see the potential benefits of meeting up with friends as weighing out any unforeseen risk. Hence, I’ll be in SE Michigan (Detroit, Ann Arbor) from the 25th through the 28th of September, so if anyone would like to meet up for a coffee, tea, food, walk, chat, etc., I will be around.

* * *

Just to start on some final reflections (it’s a bit difficult to form valid, fully-formed thoughts whilst traveling), I can’t help but feel a growing sense of necessity to poke around any ideas I find within my mind, to not let them sit too comfortably in any fold of my brain, such that they gather dust from sitting solid in my mind for too long. If anything, my studies have taught me how to dig, and have given me quite a large and agile spade with which I can do so.

In reading a bit of Nancy Scheper-Hughes (the epilogue from the end of her book, Death Without Weeping), she spent some time talking about her husband and the type of person he was. He worked as a social worker, and Nancy an anthropologist. A line that struck me from NSH was how she noted (please forgive my less-than-accurate paraphrasing) that her husband simply did not have the skeptical attitude or imperative for justice that was necessary for an anthropologist to have. Although I can’t really manage the nuance that NSH had, I must say that she did a wonderful job of showing that the lack of this imperative for justice that her husband lacked was not a bad thing. Rather, she was simply saying that he was better at being with people who were going through rough times, and helping them through, where NSH was taking these experiences and turning them into larger issues that required someone fight to change them.

This line struck me because I think I feel the same sense or requirement for justice that NSH felt as an anthropologist. I’m not sure how this sense will manifest itself in my later life, but I have no doubt that the path I’m on will lead me towards taking this sense of justice forward into practice.

With that being said, I think I’m going to leave the post here for the moment. The sun is out in Barcelona and I’ve got little time to enjoy it, so I’m off to be outside for a little while 🙂

Hopefully I’ll get one more post in before I can turn the blog over, and make sure to check out my new blog (still under construction, but the link will remain the same) if you want to continue to follow my travels / studies!

Much peace,
Jeffrey

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