Industrial Archaeology: Realizations and Connections

It’s amazing sometimes how things can come out of the blue to say hello. Moments of clarity in an otherwise blurry day reach out and just pull you in, whether you wanted it to or not. It was soon after my return to America from my time abroad where things began to coalesce into the path that I am on today.

Where does one begin?

Why, at the beginning. At least one beginning.

History has always been integral to all aspects of my life. My undergraduate degree was in English, which is rooted deeply in historical context. Now I study Archaeology, the study of humanity through the study of material culture. How did I manage to get from there to here? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. My English studies focused on composition and contemporary American literature, interspersed with critical theory, theories of interpretation, and a fellow named Carl Jung. Wonderful stuff. Near the end of my degree I learned about another approach called ethnography. I traveled to Japan with ethnography on my mind.

I had ideas. Too many ideas. Two years in Japan introduced me to the dynamics of culture. There are so many ways to look at it. External study can only do so much until your feet hit the ground in an alienating place. It was a shock but not unexpected. I’ve dealt with some of my experiences in Japan in another blog, NihoniGo. I won’t go into it here but suffice to say things became complicated.

Returning is a goofy thing. Two years in Japan and I was back home. Everything old was new again. I had changed and so had my home. The search for work was less than engaging and I found I wanted more. Of what I didn’t know.

I had to search. I had to dig. But really. What I really needed to do was talk.

I returned to my university and started talking. A wonderful woman shared her time with me and she mentioned a program at the university called Industrial Archaeology. What is this? I thought. Before I could react she sent me across the hall to talk to another person, and from him to another. I made my rounds through the department as professors patiently answered my questions and introduced me to a new field of study.

The things they said made sense to me and intrigued me to learn more. I applied to the Master program and was accepted. One semester down and plenty to go.

Now I’m learning again. New approaches. New ideas. New concepts. New challenges.

Now, I must discover where I fit in this new space.

What new realizations and connections have you made? Have you ever looked back and discovered that the things you’ve done brought you to this point? Was there a turning point, as is often marketed, or was it just the overall collection of experiences? It seems like a simple question but it is filled with difficult reflections of our past.

Go forth with excitement this day.

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Where will it lead?

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