May 19th 2017 was the day I had been dreading for nearly 4 and a half years, v-day, judgement day, the PhD 'defense' or viva voce as we still call it...
And it was fine. Despite inviting some very senior and amazing geographers to read it (who I had never met, deeply respect and was in awe/ afraid of them a little!). Basically none of the questions I expected came up, but all of them were reasonable. We had an interesting discussion about my work, which it seems the examiners found relatively interesting and up to scratch, and were even kind enough to say they had seen much worse cases of typos! Thank you Mike Crang and Caitlin DeSilvey if you stumble across this, for making this event fairly painless.
Since then, I have been fortunate to attend the Nordic Geographers Meeting again, this time in Stockholm, where I presented some of the theoretical aspects of the PhD: arguments for using value theory within political ecology. I also presented some thoughts on some aspects about Svalbard and environmental protection that is easily over-looked: the oceans, which I did not cover within my PhD.
I also presented some of my thoughts on methodology and research practice, inspired by the PhD and my Svalbard experiences at the Royal Geographers Society Annual Conference in London. I had some really great feedback about this work, so writing that into a paper is high on the list of publication prioroties! Conference season over, I had to re-open the PhD tome for the final task: corrections. In this case, I was happy to discover some unfamiliar literature to fill some gaps in my theory chapter and rewrite the conclusion.
And for the grand finale on the update, finally, something you can read, that I have written, based on the PhD research (some of it even appears in the thesis): I have a paper published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism. It's all about who gets to produce knowledge in and about Svalbard, focussing on the roles of 'researcher' and 'tourists'. If you would like to read it, you can access it here (paywall version): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09669582.2018.1435670, or, there are 50 free e-prints available using this link, https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/7c9pGKBIAnR62Zdp2JQh/full snap it up! At this point I should say a big thank you to friend and colleague Roger Norum, who I met in Svalbard (see the Svalbard bubble effect post!) for giving me this opportunity.
Meanwhile, things are all a bit topsy turvy with the UK in relative weather chaos with sub-zero temperatures and snow, #thebeastfromtheeast and Svalbard above freezing, lots of melting chaos. All my winter woolies and Svalbard gear has come out of hiding and is reminding me of good times.