I’m a PhD student conducting research on the “culture” of food allergy and allergy medicine in the United States. Like an anthropologists in a foreign country, I’ve been exploring, listening, watching, and learning how allergies are treated and how people learn to handle them in their everyday lives. I’m hoping to learn more about the values, emotions, technical skills, and knowledge that influence and arise from how people manage allergies.
I’m also a young woman with many allergies of my own: allergies to dust, tree and weed pollens, molds, and animals; allergies to antibiotics; and some adult-onset allergies to certain foods. My research is inspired in part by my own experience learning about how to stay healthy with allergies that were discovered after I was already out on my own in the world. Many of the stories about living with allergies that other people have shared in books, blogs, and conversations sound eerily familiar to me.
Why blog? I already have a dissertation to write, after all!
Well, first and foremost, being a PhD student is a lonely life. I spend a lot of time working on my own, from a home office. I don’t always know if the things I experience or notice related to allergies are things that resonate with other peoples’ experiences. I hope others will read what I have to say and offer their own takes on things. Correct me, contradict me, agree with me, support me: have at me!
Second, the key to finishing a dissertation is to keep writing! A blog is a good way to get down ideas that I might otherwise just try to keep in my head. Try as I might, I always end up forgetting things if I don’t record them somewhere.
Third, I want a place to jot down things that might not fit within the framework of my dissertation. The received wisdom among the graduate students I know is that you’ll collect enough data for two to three dissertations while you do your research. Some of it just doesn’t fit. Some of it is also just not the right kind of data for a scholarly piece of writing in my field. Too personal, or too anecdotal. I’ll be collecting those bits and pieces to share here.
Finally, academic writing can be boring and dry. I want to exercise my writing chops without boring everyone – myself included! – to tears with footnotes and citations and long words with vague meanings.
I’ll be presenting a blend of commentary, news, analysis, observations, and personal experiences. When I do use scholarly jargon, I’ll try to break it down and make very clear how it relates to food allergies. For the most part, this is an experiment. I hope it’s a fun journey!