Friday, February 23, 2007

School Work

I don't remember ever having to read this much every day. Its like I still go to work, except 'work' consists of parsing through journal articles and books at six-seven hours on average daily. And I feel like I'm still behind school work! I'm only supposed to write three 6,000-word essays for my subjects this term, and present them in my seminar (report) in class. It doesn't seem like much, but perhaps my previous graduate work makes me see issues as more complex than I may have three-four years back, hence I 'complicate' matters when there is no need. I say this because the quality of the seminars presented so far don't seem that advanced. Naks, yabang.

But I royally fucked up my first seminar though, because I made it too long and 'detailed'. 29 powerpoint slides for 1 hour was cutting it close. But I practiced delivering it! I didn't anticipate that no one, aside from the teacher, seemed to know what I was talking about. I guess nobody has done any IPE (International Political Economy) among my classmates.

The classes are all fascinating and everything, but again, there seems to be little effort to explain concepts and IR theories and how they shape politics. The lectures are matter-of-fact (as in Realist). The analyses are matter-of-fact. I imagined the scholarship here would be similar to Britain, where IPE is more mainstream. I imagined digging deeper into Democratization, Development and the State, to no avail. I hadn't anticipated that scholarship here would be much more similar to the US than Europe. Focus on war, security, terrorism and all that are all fascinating, but doesn't interest me as much as political economy. I suppose I am informed by the concerns of my own country, where economic and political development as well as social equity in the global context are more paramount. Oh well.

So far, at least in my uni, the 2 professors I have this sem seem not to have ventured beyond Realist analysis. When you teach politics of the Third World, Realism as your theoretical tool won't get you too far. Your conclusions will amount to this: wow, how terrible things are in these poor, developing nations. Realism will not ask questions about the nature of these states. Realism will not ask questions as to why they are poor. Realism will not ask questions about the nature of Capitalism and how it has shaped contemporary global politics since the colonial period. Realism will not look beyond the 'state' as a rational, calculating actor on the world stage. Realism is the analytical tool of 'great power' foreign policy-making and problem-solving. It does not, indeed, cannot say much about the social ills of the rest of the world (ROW).


On a lighter note, I made two fabulous purchases this afternoon. I anticipate taking EU subjects in September and so these books are a great find! I bought them for $10 total, P380. These books don't normally sell for less than P1,500 in the Philippines. O 'di ba?

My bookrest has been garnering queries from students. They ask me where I bought it only to be disappointed to hear that I brought it with me all the way from the Philippines(!). I'm not sure how the bookrest revolution began in Manila, but I've a feeling it came from the UP College of Law, because that's where I first saw them used for hardcore study, waaay back in 2001. Then I bought one and used it whenever I studied at Starbucks, a year later, you saw them everywhere! Maybe I'll start the bookrest revolution here.

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