Seminar: Seeing the World through Indian Foreign Service Eyes – A Blueprint for ‘Diplomatic’ Fieldwork

Greetings from the Coombs Seminar Room A at The Australian National University where India specialist Kate Sullivan is presenting Seeing the World through Indian Foreign Service Eyes — A Blueprint for ‘Diplomatic Fieldwork’ in the study of International Relations (IR).

The talk and topic is particularly interesting to me in that the study readily lends itself to the application of Aspect-Oriented Thinking (a multidisciplinary methodology developed by Dr Shayne Flint) in tackling the integration of the necessary domain knowledge and structure.

In the first part of her talk, Ms Sullivan makes the following interesting points about IR study.

IR is not culturally-neutral: This affects the study of IR theories due to the following factors:

  • Complexity
  • Epistemology
  • Universalist assumptions
  • IR’s ‘debt to the West’

Reforming the discipline of IR study: These issues have been recognized by intellectuals and efforts are underway to reform the discipline, in particular the handling of culture in the context of

  • Foreign Policy Analysis
  • Strategic Studies

IR studies are obviously multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary in nature, encountering issues which can to a large extent be ameliorated by exploiting interpretive contexts. This work presents interesting cross-cutting concerns with current research across The Australian National University by Ziyad Alshaikh in management of context, suggesting effective use of a Context Dynamics Matrix.

In the second part of her talk, Ms Sullivan visits the debate surrounding the narrative exploration in her research studies, successfully arguing a case for contextualizing the implicit nature of theories and methodologies in asking questions about India’s aspirations to be an institutionally recognized ‘global power’.

Finally, Ms Sullivan outlined the effects various drivers and forces governing Indian foreign policy decisions and their resulting outcomes. She argued that we should look at the context of the narrative concerns at a sufficient level of abstraction and detail and map it to an ethnographic effect. This entails a view of the Indian Foreign Service from a perspective of:

  • Data collection/study/interpretation
  • ‘Emic’ (insider) verus ‘etic’ (outsider) approach
  • Attempt to grasp the making of meaningful social behavior
  • Encourage reflexivity on part of the researcher

These research questions are not too different from the questions I seek to answer in the field of contextual concept workflow management (answering the four canonical questions of who, what, when, why), and the need to explicitize the context-tie-in.

Ms Sullivan also suggested that there is a progressive change in the sensitivity with which India has projected its image abroad and in the international arena. She discussed what makes the study of historical and current ethnographies challenging and how academic research could manage ‘in-the-field’ analysis of individuals who seek to inform public policy in international relations.

Finally, there was some time spent in general discussion and questions on issues affecting studies in International Relations. Points raised recognized the need to resolve cultural forces, challenges in marrying inconsistencies between theoretical and practical approaches and the academic material in the context of this research.

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Seminar: Seeing the World through Indian Foreign Service Eyes – A Blueprint for ‘Diplomatic’ Fieldwork

Speaker: Kate Sullivan, International Relations, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies

Date: Wednesday, 25 June 2009

Time: 3:30PM – 5:00 PM

Venue: Seminar Room A, Coombs Building, ANU (campus map)

Website: South Asia Seminar Series

Kate Sullivan is a PhD candidate and India specialist in the Department of International Relations at the Australian National University. She lectures  Hindi-Urdu Filmi Hindi (a course on Bollywood film studies) at the Faculty’s South Asia Center.

Original Seminar Notice at: South Asia Seminar Series

Seminar: Programming the iPhone

Speaker: Hugh Fisher, School of Computer Science, ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science

Date: Thursday, 25 June 2009

Time: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Venue: CSIT Seminar Room, N101, CSIT Building (Bldg 108), North Road, ANU (campus map)

Website: Seminars @ CECS

Enquiries: Hugh Fisher

This seminar will give an introduction to the Apple iPhone (and iPod Touch) as a programming platform. Topics covered will include the hardware and OS capabilities, programming environment, the new styles of user interaction, and the restrictions on development and distribution. Don’t expect any impressive demos or in-depth benchmarking: the target audience is people who’ve never programmed an iPhone but are curious about what is involved.

This seminar is part of the CECS Seminar Series.

Hugh Fisher is a long time owner and programmer of Apple computers, and also interested in human-computer interaction. He is also a long time member of the School of Computer Science.

Original Seminar Notice at: Programming the iPhone, CECS Seminar List, The Australian National University, 2009