Monday, 2 August 2010

Revisiting the original idea

Last Thursday, I hit a wall in my dissertation. I found myself bored with it and asking a lot of questions. Why am I writing this? Why did I make this decision? What was the point? How does this information matter? Will this achieve the goal? What was the goal again?

I needed to go back to the beginning and remember, beyond the twenty second summary, why I wanted to write my dissertation on the Maldives and how it can be set forth as an example of climate change in a particular country and climate change as a human (rights) issue.

I'm not sure I have a handle on it yet. I'm feeling more bored with my dissertation than excited about it. I still have some thinking to do and reimagining, but I think I'm on the right track.

I chatted about it with a good friend of mine (thanks, Gabs) and thinking my reasoning is this:

The world is a huge place. It's largely anonymous. We need to be educated about something to care about it. My goal is to write about the Maldives as a place, a unique formation on this planet, to set it up as a beautiful place that's worth interest and worth caring about. In this, appealing to people's sense of beauty or their aspiration to visit amazing places or scuba dive. Then to talk about the country, the people, the history. Talking about the history beyond Islam's arrival is to set it up as one of the ancient civilizations of the world where people have deep roots. Not just a new place that's had people for a few centuries, but there are 'indigenous' people and these islands are important to world history. Today, there are real people, being affected. Telling stories about the tsunami, about people needing to move islands, is to appeal to people's sense of empathy, to get them to put themselves into other people's shoes. After the earthquake in Haiti, after the Boxing Day Tsunami, there was a huge outpouring of monies and support. I'm suggesting that a country disappearing under rising seas is a tragedy that is similar, but on a more extreme and permanent scale, in the hope that people can start to think about it in terms of human beings, and not some anonymous island they've never heard of.

Will this be successful? Stay tuned.

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