Really nice blogpost by Sam Merrill about interdisciplinarity over on his blog. I definitely identify with some of the experiences Sam relates, albeit in different institutional contexts…
I recently read Matt Houlbrook’s excellent blog post, ‘on being a one trick historian’ (appropriately accompanied by The Smiths’ Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before) and was struck by the particular resonance of some of his words.“It is not easy to turn new tricks in the world we inhabit. Starting from scratch is an uncomfortable experience – it means admitting our ignorance, addressing the reading we have not done, relying upon the kindness of academic strangers.
It takes time”
As Matt does elsewhere on his website, I tend to emphasise the mobility that has characterised my academic pathway to date and the benefits I believe it has brought my scholarly practice. This mobility extends beyond study and employment spells at different UK higher educations institutions, which depending on how strictly I define ‘spells’ ranges from between three and five universities, to also include periods of education and work in different national and cultural settings including at two universities in Germany and two in Australia. Most importantly, however, this mobility also pertains to the level of scholarly flexibility that I have tried to uphold through a willingness to cross academic borders and expose my research to the perspectives of new disciplines. This is reflected by the fact that in the last ten years I have spent time in archaeology and ancient history, heritage studies, cultural geography, urban studies, business, economics and tourism, and modern languages departments. I do not mean this list to sound conceited, not least because I have come across enough criticism and regularly grapple with the potential risks of this chosen path to know that it is not something that all would feel proud of or feel comfortable about.
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