mCenter Visiting Scholars Report
We were very pleased to host a recent visit by two international Visiting Scholars Maria Quvang Lund Vestergaard and Andrea Davide Cuman, who were both here for a few weeks last month. Andrea is a PhD student at University of Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy, and is working on a thesis “Mediating/mediatizing territory: the travel guidebook and the rise of locative media”. Maria is a PhD student at Aalborg University in Denmark, working on a thesis on “Mobility in rural Denmark”. Both attended the 2nd annual jointconference of the Pan-American Mobilities Network and the Cosmobilities Network, which was held at North Carolina State University, and took the opportunity to also spend some time at Drexel University, where we welcome international visitors at the doctoral and postdoctoral level. Below are remarks they each have made about their visit to the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, and to the Culture and Communication Department at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
“When I first planned to visit the mCenter and Professor Sheller at Drexel University, I wanted to draft the methodological tools for a case study of my project and improve my overall research design. For my research project I am studying mobile media and sense of place in the touristic experience, and I knew that the mCenter would be an ideal place to deepen and integrate the mobilities paradigm within my thesis. Reflecting on the concepts of mobility (and immobility of course) thus helped me re-frame some of my ideas and better inform my methodologies.
The weekly meetings arranged by professor Sheller, both individual and with the other students of the PhD program, have been invaluable moments: they provided me with specific and pragmatic suggestions regarding my research methods on the one hand, and offered me the chance to reflect on the broader issues connected with my thesis on the other. Above all, it has been an experience of intellectual exchange, of finding and sharing new ideas, and learning to look at my subject from different perspectives, maintaining focus on my work and at the same time inspiring it.
What I didn’t expect was how much I gained also from the free time spent in the Culture and CommunicationDepartment of Drexel University and the city more generally. The department staff were welcoming and helpful throughout the day, and the enjoyable lunches I had with other faculty members provided me the occasion to tell more about my project and network with persons of great expertise. And when the day was over, spending time with Maria Vestergaard, another visiting PhD student, made visiting the city not only leisure time, but also an opportunity to further discuss what we had learned during the day and about each other’s projects, receiving some great ideas for my research. My most sincere gratitude to all for this period, I had a truly rewarding and memorable experience, and I definitely plan to return there in the future.”
– Andrea Davide Cuman, University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy
“In May 2011 Professor Sheller visited my home University (Aalborg University) and I got a chance to discuss my project about “Mobilities in Peripheral Areas in Denmark” with her. The feedback I got then was so good that I just wanted more. This was one of my reasons to try to have a visit with the mCenter, another reason was to experience and discuss mobility in another research environment than my home environment at Center for Mobility and Urban Studies. When I discovered an interesting conference (Local and mobile) coming up “over there” it was just obvious for me to try to combine these things. Luckily the mCenter agreed to host me for a month stay.
My aim with the stay was to develop my conference paper from the Local and Mobile conference even further and gain knowledge about tourism mobilities, which matched very well the program that professor Sheller suggested including among other things a reading group with herself, two local Ph.D.’s and another visiting scholar, Andrea Cuman, from Italy. Within the reading group we read and discussed the newly published book “Digital Divide in Philadelphia” and we all presented our projects, in which several of us were working with tourism mobilities in different ways.
Sitting here in my office one week after getting back to Denmark I still have troubles putting into words all the things that I gained from my stay. Things like new perspectives on my projects and a changed mind-set are difficult to phrase more precisely than that. The time to read and to be immersed into the field and especially the discussions with the others in the reading group, with Professor Sheller at other meetings and with Andrea at all times contributed to my theoretical knowledge and gave me new ideas for my methodologies. More specifically the discussion about the use of different terms has been very valuable for me as a none-native speaker of the language. Thank you to you all for giving me new perspectives, ideas, knowledge and insight it has improved my project and it has matured me as a researcher. Also a thank you to various employees at the Culture and Communication Department for welcoming me and introducing me to Philadelphia and the American culture. I have truly enjoyed my stay.
– Maria Vestergaard, Aalborg University, Denmark
We thank both for their very productive visit. And we invite inquiries from other graduate students who would like to spend time at the mCenter. For further information please contact mCenter Director, Professor Mimi Sheller: email@example.com.