The international Sudans conference in Bonn was only my second conference paper I’ve presented, and I’m definitely still learning the art of presentation (and still relying too heavily on notes to stop the shakey fear overtaking me too much).
One of the things I was particularly pleased with in my paper was that it was an example of an area of serious research – on citizenship – but using an example of how the theories of this citizenship literature and debate is actually working in practice; something that actually rarely comes up, other than in reference to the Southern Sudanese people stranded with no paperwork at all. The people with some paperwork are often left out in a focus on the terrible, extreme cases.
This meant that I had no conclusive answers and only the evidence that I have been collecting, in between my PhD research (as this is not the focus of my PhD!) over the last couple of years. I really enjoyed the fact that – despite being while I was still standing on a terrifyingly large, raised stage – people were giving me additional information and ideas in the questions; I also enjoyed the fact that I was confident enough in my work to say what we don’t know, what there is no information on. This is what a “work in progress” is like, I thought. It makes you feel both insecure – should I have emphasised the historical and Sudan-wide nature of what I was talking about more? But I had only suspicions about that, I haven’t been to the offices in Khartoum in the same way – and pleased – I am one of the few people who has looked into this process in practice, and it’s a good feeling. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the information, and it needs a lot more development, but it was fun.
And with a thing in progress, as soon as you start thinking about it, stuff appears: this article, about form-fillers in Khartoum, turned up on AFP yesterday, and nicely fits in to my little developing side-project.