June 6, 2017

[PowerPoint slides attached below]

I recently took part in the 4th iteration of the Nomad Cruise, a 15-day floating conference aboard a cruise ship on a course to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

On the final day of the conference before arriving at the island of Madeira, I gave a presentation to Nomad Cruise participants entitled “Academic Perspective on Mobility: Power, Capital, and Belonging.” The idea was to present an overview of my research topic, show how it fits within anthropology in general, and to get conference participants to think a bit about what “mobility” is, all without the jargon that usually renders academic discussions esoteric for outsiders.

It was the first time that I gave a talk about my research to a non-academic crowd, so I was a bit nervous about how well it would be received. Thankfully, it was met with much enthusiasm, and an engaging question and answer session followed. Even a few of the ship’s crew members engaged and asked me some important questions about the future of this movement and of work more generally. Afterwards, several participants approached me wanting to continue the conversation, and share and learn more.

In social science research – especially anthropology – we’re encouraged to present our ideas and findings to the groups that we study. We do this not just because they have a right to hear what we’re saying about them, but to add an element of collaboration to research. Especially in a group like digital nomads – which is filled with entrepreneurs and out-of-the-box thinkers, there’s so much for the researcher to learn from how participants process what’s going on in their own world.