Friday, August 17, 2007

Why I decided to start blogging

Greetings from kbw a/k/a pagol nari. I've decided to take the blogging plunge after the Nari Jibon Project received a Global Voices/Rising Voices blogging grant this summer. After learning much more about Global Voices and other assorted blogs and the growing power(s) of citizen media, I started thinking about my own blog. Then the Blogging Dol has been having much fun with their English and Bangla blogs--and I had much more that I wanted to say than would fit into a few Nari Jibon Blog posts.

I've been going back and forth from USA to Bangladesh since 2000 when first I traveled on a women's studies consultancy. During my seven trips to Bangladesh, I saw and talked many interesting women and men regarding challenges of women workers, micro-credit, and empowerment. I returned with some graduate students and started on a series of research and action projects on domestic violence resources and women's work opportunities in garments and other sectors during global restructuring. During two extended fellowships (2002-3; 2004-5), I had more opportunities to learn about women's and men's daily lives and also wonder about what women could do if they had to change or lost their jobs to economic restructuring. I met some very interesting young girls-boys on the streets, women workers in different occupations, including garment, sex, and domestic work, housewives, beggars, teachers, professors, NGO activists, businesswomen among others. I also met some men who had their own struggles-issues. I also learned enough Bangla to bargain and get in to trouble.

From these experiences, the Nari Jibon Program emerged and you can read more about this unique training program via the links and my posts. You will also hear about my ongoing research and different perspectives on women's issues, programming, so-called empowerment, and opportunistic uses of gender. I will reflect as well as on being a bideshi (foreigner) in Bangladesh-a moderate Muslim country-post September 2001, during the Iraqi invasion in 2003 (grounded-embedded in my guesthouse by the US Embassy!) and assorted floods and socio-economic-political upheavals, including postponed elections and a military backed care-taker government. However, I've learned some resilience from my stays in Bangladesh and from people who persevere nonetheless.

About my background, I grew up mostly in Western Kansas, Russell, to be specific. During my Bangladesh times, the famous quote from Wizard of Oz came to my mind: "Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas, anymore." Two other (in) famous people from Russell, Ks, former KS Senator, Bob Dole and a current PA Senator, Arlen Spector. I went to Fort Hays State University for a degree in Sociology and feminist activism, then off to University of Iowa for my advanced degrees in the same topics. Then I came to scenic Southern Illinois in 1982 and have continued my research on women in global economy and other re-visioning projects since then.

Alas, I am in the USA, starting my fall 2007 semester at my university, working on research & mainstream articles on domestic violence, 2004 floods in Bangladesh, fundraising for Nari Jibon, plotting my next trip, and thinking of my flooded and waterlogged friends and staff in Bangladesh. I'm staring at my overgrown, dry, neglected native plant gardens that have been overrun by honey suckle and more virulent poison ivy in my long-term absences. Nonetheless, many of the plants-shrubs have persevered, despite obvious global warming, droughts, extended growing seasons (we can plant tomatoes mid April instead of May), and temperature extremes.

Enough about me. As soon as I get my class syllabus finished, you will be hearing more about some of the people and flowers that I met-photographed in Bangladesh and other deep thoughts.


Rezwan said...

Welcome to the blogosphere Kathy. Looking forward to your views and experiences about Bangladesh, which are ususally stereotyped in the traditional Western Media.

Katie said...

Welcome to my world! Nice prose! I hope your syllabus is done so we can see some of those pictures. said...

I must also echo the welcomes of Rezwan and Katie. It's great to have you around this neck of the woods and I'm looking forward to learning more about your life and your time in Bangladesh via the blog.