When I started this blog it seemed like the dissertation planning process was years away. Now I am a month away from submitting my first proposal. “Just” 1,000 words and a brief outline of what I intend to research and why I want to research it. I no longer have the luxury of focusing on three very broad topics: race, technology and development. I have to narrow this down to something that can be researched in a few months and converted into a 12,000 – 15,000 dissertation. This is also means that I can’t afford to simply post links to articles, journals etc without engaging with the material – something I was reluctant to do a few months ago because I felt that my ideas still needed some refining. Well, the time has come for me to do more than just read and focus my research around a topic or (at this stage) themes that I can transform into a dissertation proposal.
This process is proving harder than I thought. As the mind map below illustrates I had (and still have) loads of ideas/potential research areas floating about in my mind
From the very start I knew I was interested in race and I wanted to use Critical Race Theory as a framework. Sometime in the summer I read Prof. Jessie Daniel’s paper on Race, Racism and Internet Studies and there two things in her review that stood out for me:
There are interesting conversations about race happening on Twitter (e.g., sometimes following hashtags such as #blacktwitter and #browntwitterbird). To date, there is no research in the peer-reviewed literature about race, racism and Twitter and this will surely change soon (Daniels, 2012 p.171)
Even more unusual is any recognition of racism on the Internet and this is connected, I argue, to the theoretical weakness of the prevailing racial formation theory in Internet studies (Daniels, 2012 p 172)