Monday, 22 November 2010

November 2010

Usually in Sweden (or at least here at CUReS in Örebro), academic terms start up slowly and evolve into dynamic periods. Suddenly, you find yourself in mid-term stress when you discover that a lot has to be done before the end of the term. It's at times like these that it can be good to examine the numerous different assignments and the way they relate to each other.

November 2010 is no exception to this rule. Last Thursday and Friday, we've been to Bredsjö for so-called internal seminars. Gathered together with a group of about 20 regional and urban researchers, we discussed our work in three thematic groups: "place and identity", "regional and urban development" and "sustainability and climate change". This resulted in discussions of our to organsie our work here and how to repesent the centre in external communication.

Closely related to this is the general research plan for CUReS, which we discussed at the end of the series of seminars. In between we discussed each other's papers. I commented on Andreas paper and Håkan commented on my paper. Valuable contributions were made in the field of place, space, identity and place marketing. Of course, these sessions were accompanied by an abundance of good food and drinks.

For me personally, this means that I now can continue my work on a course paper for the long-gone course of Geographical perspectives on cultural heritage. This paper was due in the autumn of 2009, when I was on paternity leave. So now I have confronted myslef with a new deadline; I want it toi be finished before the start of the Christmas holidays.

My to-do list in short:
- get rid of the text based on Anholt and Moilanen & Rainisto - these are too much of a consultancy character, rather than an academic character.
- add a more thorough study of Ashworth & Voogd (1990) as well as the other classical texts of place marketing.
- add a discussion on texts about cultural heritage provided in the course literature.

This course paper should then function as a point of departure for my second and third article, about palce marketing and decision making in the context of dutch migration to Sweden in the early 21st century (aka Orange Waves). It is still undecided where and how to draw the line between these to interrelated topics. One thing that should be done however, is to use a more problematising approach to the subjects. For instance, it could be made more political by asking why the swedish municipalities attracting ducth migrnats don't want to make more use of the existing group of asylum seekers and refugees from de Middle East and African countries already residing there. Moreover, I can also ask the Dutch migrants what they are moving away from; do they perhaps see the Dutch society as too multicultural? Do they prefer being (European, white, Christian) immigrants in Sweden over living with (non-European, non-white, non-Christian) immigrants in the Netherlands?

Besides this, we have gatherd in a two-day Nordic Urban Workshop here in Örebro in October 2010. We were about fifteen PhD students from a number of different countries and univeristies in Sweden discussing urban research in general. This resulted in teh start of a network that will hopefully be able to grow and maintain itself at the fore-front of Nordic Urban research.

Meanwhile, I have also been teaching again, at the same course as last spring, when my father so sadly passed away. I feels strangely awkward to take up the same topics and study the same subjects as I was doing then. I am currently reflecting on what to discuss during the two remaining lectures, to be given in early December. These are the lectures that I was simply not able to give last Spring. It looks like I will summarise a PhD course that I took earlier on this year, called "Mobility in time and space". This summary should be about 45 minutes and it will give an overview of the interdisciplinary theme of mobility studies. Another part of the lecture should discuss migration in general and its different types (partly based on the course literure by Khalid Koser). It should also focus on different types of migration in different periods of time.

That would be a good bridge to the final lecture, about international migration to the Swedish countryside. For this lecture, I could rely on my own studies. General overviews of Migration to Sweden during the recent decades should be followed by a specific presentation of Dutch migrants in Sweden. Possibly, I will add a short intercultural seminar on population geography, in order to contribute to "internationalisation at the home ground".

Last but not least, I'm co-organising a meeting with a Swedish Population Geograper's network, to be held here in Örebro on 2 February 2011. This is quite an informal meeting that takes place every year in the early spring (or in Sweden this would be mid-winter). It looks like we have been able to arrange an interesting programme!

More news next-time!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

September 2010

C & L are in Northern Sweden to visit family. I couldn't join them since I had too much work to do. Is that really true? I'm trying to take it easy since papa died, 'cause there's so much more in life than work. But if I hadn't been able to work for ten days, it would have been stressful afterwards.

So what's on? The new academic year has now most definitely started with many students studying human geography and tourism studies. Of course this is a good sign for us, but it also means much more work with still the same amount of time that we get paid for. 33 students may not seem so much, but dividing them into 2 groups with three seminars for each group and having to correct 3 assignments 33 times takes time!

Well, we're planning as we speak, and as it is me who is repsonsoible for the course this autumn, I also book lecture rooms and that sort of administrative thing. This time, we even scheduled a study visit to the Migration Board in Örebro ( Let's hope this gives somewhat of a practical start of the course, as students may learn a lot more from this than from reading a 100 pages...

Also, on 14 and 15 Ocotober 2010, CUReS will host the first Nordic Urban Workshop for PhD Students studying urban phenomena from a broad spectre of disciplines (sociology, Health, Education, Politic science, Human Geography and History). Anders and me are busy planning this and we'll hopefully be host to people from Norway, Sweden, Finland, France and Italy. It will be quite international and intercultural, with a seminar, a guided tour of Örebro Castle and dinner in town.

Meanwhile, Mats, Dieter and me started preparing for two new articles to come. One about place marketing and one considering the decision making process of the Dutch lifestyle migrants coming to Central Sweden in the early 21st Century. A lot of studying and planning needs to be done, as I will probably visit the Scandinavia Day in Hoevelaken in January and the Emigration Fair in Houten in February 2011. A start is made with studying Simon Anholts books and website considering his work about competitive identity and the Nation Brands Index.

So, yes it's true that I couldn't join C & L to Northern Sweden. What is more, I have finally been doing some work in and around the house; I hope the garden, car, stairs and trees look nicer now than before (but see another blog).

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

August and everything after

Probably, I started working to soon after dad passed away. It wasn't possible to focus on work those weeks in May and June. One lecture that I was supposed to give had to be cancelled as I hadn't been able to prepare a proper one. Talking sense when supervising students during the B-paper course was quite a challenge. No suprise then, that I couldn't really find a way to submit the article.

Finally, the summerholidays started, we travelled to Holland and I could sort of relax. It was right in those first weeks of the holidyas that I regained some concentration and on 15 July, I submitted the article.

Now it's the beginning of August and slowly I start working again. Trying not to exagerate. It will be a while before comments on the article will reach me. Instead, reading texts I should have read before is a good way to start up. At work, not many people have returned from their holidays, which also smoothens things.

Later on, there will be kick-offs and meetings. And Peter and me will have to start planning for the Autumn version of the course about population, urbanisation and mobility. I will also have to make plans for two new articles and field work for these articles. But now, I will read Brian Berry's classical reader (1975) about urbanisation and counterurbanisation.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Mourning and sorrow

These last weeks have been a complete chaos of feelings and thoughts. As you may know. May father died in April. All other things are unimportant. I was there in the Netherlands and stayed for some weeks.

For work this meant that nothing particular was done in April. My colleagues kindly took over the lectures I was supposed to give and the seminars I was supposed to lead. One lecture was cancelled as I thought that I could do it, but in the last moment realised that I wasn't able to focus at all.

I am now together with Mats and Ann-Cathrine lecturing on a course about writing a scientific paper. This involves more consultation work than lecturing, which could be good as it requires a more practical way of focussing. I find focussing on practical matters somewhat easier than focussing on theory, concepts and academic writing.

This week, I took over after Anders, who was supposed to organise a Nordic Urban Workshop. This is to be held in Örebro in October, and about 20 PhD students are expected to participate. Event organisation is something we learned at European Studies and I am happy to be able to practice that now. Together with a research administrator, we are planning and making a flyer.

The PhD course on Mobility was already finished when the tragedy happend. No new PhD courses are planned for this Spring term. There may be one course coming up in the Autumn. A course on quantitave methods, here in Örebro. Would be good not to travel too much.

And yes, I am trying to finish my article soon.