The penultimate post in our methodology and narrative mini-forum, written by Annick T.R. Wibben. Annick is Associate Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco. She’s been thinking about narrative for a long time, but rarely writes autoethnography. The piece featured here was originally written in 2006, but it’s taken her this long to find a suitable home for it…not to mention the courage to let it go out into the world. When she is not thinking about narrative (or tweeting about feminism, security and violence @ATRWibben), her research at the intersections of feminist theory, security studies, and continental philosophy, aims to radicalize security studies and to challenge the politics of security. In Feminist Security Studies: A Narrative Approach (Routledge, 2011), she examines meanings of security legitimized in existing practices and proposes an opening of the security studies agenda by drawing on narrative approaches. So, really, she’s never not thinking about narrative.
So here I am; it is 9:30am. I am sitting in a room with other women at our weekly Friday writing group. We call ourselves the Writing Warriors, as much to describe what we’re doing as also to encourage ourselves to continue doing it. Most of us are untenured still, which adds an extra dimension to the task of writing – must be productive, must publish! Many of us have small children and when the writing stops, that’s what we talk about: How do we deal with the challenges of combining motherhood and an academic career. We exchange recommendations for childcare and kid-friendly restaurants; we give advice on breastfeeding, potty-training, and where to buy healthy snacks (we certainly don’t have time to make them). Sometimes one or more of us have to miss the writing day (or part of it) when a child is home from school, a babysitter is ill, or we just cannot focus on our own research because we need to catch up on teaching or service commitments (of which we all have plenty, of course).
So here I am; I arrived late today. Only a few minutes late, but late enough to be occupied still with what I left behind in the rush to get here as close as possible to 9am when we meet, greet, talk about our writing plans for the day, and then start writing, promptly at 9:15am. I am wondering should I have left earlier. When? I could have skipped breakfast. I could have ignored my daughter’s requests to read her a story before leaving. Should I not have bothered to throw in the load of laundry? Or, to wipe off the food from the high-chair? I could have gotten here a few minutes earlier…
So here I am; writing IR. I am an international relations scholar, so this is what I do, I write IR. I need to convince myself that this is what I am doing, say it again: I write IR. I write IR. As I repeat these words, something else pops into my mind: Sam I am, I do not like that Sam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am… just like the character in Dr. Seuss’ children’s book needs to be convinced to try green eggs and ham just like I need to convince myself, that I am writing IR.
So here I am; staring at the blank page. Continue reading