Wednesday, 6 November 2013

An Apprentice Academic

I have been very busy (as always) but I have been making brilliant progress. Since I last 'checked in' to my blog, I have presented my research at the 'Blackness in Britain' conference hosted by Newman University in Birmingham (September 2013). I really enjoyed presenting here and I felt my confidence as a speaker improving. I was also very happy that after I presented my research Dr Carolyn Cooper said she anticipates a book from me! That was a massive compliment! I was also happy when a fellow presenter commented to me after our panel that she really liked my work on beauty. Considering I have never had feedback from my work on cyberspace I was flattered to be in an intellectual space where my work was valued.

I was also fortunate enough to present at the first International Black Doctoral Network in Philadelphia in October 2013. The plenary speakers were Dr. Cornel West, Dr. William Julius Wilson and Dr. Julianne Malveaux. I was fortunate enough to talk with Dr. West also! What an honour!!! To present at the same conference as these world renowned academics was truly amazing and humbling. My presentation here was a challenge given I had a short time to present and Grime is not really well known in the USA. Dr Mark Anthony Neal headed the panel and enjoyed my presentation. Even so my presentation was well received and I made great networking contacts and I am hopeful they will lead to other opportunities. I managed to get some sightseeing in the city of 'brotherly love'. So it was both a productive and enjoyable time.

I returned to the UK with even more zeal, and although I feel as though some opportunities that were in the pipeline may have been stifled in the short-term, I am determined. Working full time alongside my studies, I am making full use of the development opportunities available to me. I am learning to use software that will aid my fieldwork and also manage the ever burgeoning bibliographic data I acquire.

In relation to my field work which I started in mid-August, I have conducted interview and I am soliciting more. My observation and online research are paying dividends. Just last night, when discussing my research I was referred to as an #AlphaFemale, the guy thought I would be offended by the term but I actually quite like it. I am feeling very hopeful and feel as though I am on track achieving my mini targets along the way.

Friday, 9 August 2013

No rest for the wicked...

I must be very wicked as rest is something I have not been able to come by lately.

On 15th June 2013, I did my presentation (listed in the previous post) at Birkbeck College - University of London. Here, I covered research that I will include in my literature review. It was well received and I made some wonderful connections. It was a humbling experience and it was nice to know that my work is valued and that people really want to access things like this. There were approximately 50 people in attendance and the age range was quite diverse too. There were also teething problems in relation to the logistics behind the scenes but these things are learning curves.

25th July 2013, I presented and the 8th Colloquium on Ethnic Relations at UEL. This was for an academic audience but again it was received well, again I made wonderful connections and in some instances could put faces to names. Here I presented the overview of my actual research, what I am proposing to do. Many exciting development were discussed in the Colloquium in relation to the study of the Diaspora in the UK.

In between these presentations, I have followed up on networking leads and tweeked my research proposal and preparing for my field research e.g. consent forms, questionnaires etc. I have been busy attending talks and getting back into the Grime scene, fortunately the demand for it is increasing and there seems to be a space sociological space for it to flourish.

I am also gearing up to present elements of my research in Birmingham and Philadelphia - Good times!

Until next time

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Time to Talk

Hallowed be thy Grime? : A musicological and sociological genealogy of Grime music and its relation to black Atlantic religious discourse’ 

In the 90's we had jungle whereas now Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah,Tinchy Strider, Scorcher. Dot Rotten and other young black musicians have infiltrated the Top Ten with what's called 'Grime'. What is Grime ? Is it still black music ? Do teenagers see any black history in the beats, is there any ? How is Grime connected to religion and the concept of the African cultural transmission across the Atlantic over the last 500 years ? Where's the black history in black British youth culture ?

Admission free if booked via eventbrite (location info in link):

This presentation by Phd candidate Monique Charles 

About the presenter -

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Creatively cognisant

I don't blog much... but that is stating the obvious...

I have been working away producing my upgrade document, which in effect I pulled together in a year as a part time student, with a full time job. I recently had my interview and I am really hoping I have done enough.

Since last blogging, I have made some strides forward. I have joined a black women in academia group; this has been a lifeline for me in some respects because a PhD is definitely the 'self-imposed exile' I was warned about and pushing the idea of a study that focuses on a 'Black British' perspective in an academic capacity produces its own challenges.

Despite this however, I push forward. I was fortunate enough to guest lecture on contextualising Grime in March for level 5 (2nd year) undergraduates at Canterbury University. I contributed towards a final year dissertation on Grime for a student from City University. I was fortunate enough to have been offered a platform to be a role model in the Yaaya project. Lastly, I have been given two more opportunities in the near future to present aspects of my research. Slowly but surely I am establishing myself as a serious academic and my work online has consistently been accessed from around the world since being uploaded about 3 years ago... I just have to keep chipping away...

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Conferences, communication, collaboration, confidence...

So, it has been a very long time since I last blogged and to be honest it is about time I got my finger out.

I have gone through transition with a new job (which I enjoy) with people I love. I've also had an academic supervisor switch-up, this changed the focus of my research on Grime. I work with people who have connections to the music industry and have a theoretical standpoint about 'black'/'urban' music or bass culture, which is also shaping the way I think about what I am trying to do (in addition to the reading and theoretical frameworks I've been toying with).

I must say I think this supervisor switch-up was for the best as I have Robert who has been with me since my research was a budding unformed idea. Deborah is my new supervisor and is really interested in my idea and believes that some of my work so far is (with a little tweaking) publishable. That is definitely something I want to do. She is good at bringing me back to the target; what it is I am trying to do and what I need to achieve. Her direct approach has given me smaller specific mini-tasks that help me focus. They are both brilliant!

Anyway I have made much progress since the supervision changeover which took place in late October 2012. The start was shaky as I lost my granddad mid October (RIP), but this month alone I have been to three conferences and I am starting to network (note to self - need to continue work on overcoming shyness; being a wallflower is not the way forward!)

As I have mentioned in older posts, my research straddle's Grime, Sociology and Theology. Random I know! It is an organic process how my interests developed and although my most recent work is not available online, some of my older works and can be found here. Some of my newer works will be added in due course.

On 03 November I was at the Canterbury Christ University's Black Messiah: Images if Jesus in Black Urban Culture conference. This was useful as my work and academic background looks at 'Race' (class & gender) and I thought how I could apply Christ and 'Black Urban' culture into my research. My work will have a Judeo-Christiological focus, but it may not be as overt as I initially thought. Especially as a sociological discipline (my department) does not allow for this much. Also listening to (and speaking with) other speakers made me realise that I needed to focus my work a lot more. My project need to be much more narrow than I initially thought.

On 15-18 November, I was in Rotterdam at the Buma Cultuur's Rotterdam Beats Conference this was an amazing experience with a focus on the significance of influence of Jamaican culture and Reggae on music. I got the opportunity to network a bit more and made great contacts. It took a little while for me to prize myself off the wall (wall flower), but I got there in the end. This conference, in addition to my own 'literature review' reading, helpped me place Grime's genealogy more concretely. I previously read that Grime was BIG in Canada, but I had NO IDEA that it is BIG in the Netherlands too! I met some NL Grime Artists that I will keep in touch with.

Today, I went to the The Ultimate Seminar hosted by the University of Westminster. Another brilliant event with big names. They event focused mainly on the business/industry side of the music industry. Although this is not directly linked to my research (it was more targeted to those who want to be practitioners/artists/producers/lawyers etc.), it is still a crucial element that I need to have a basic understanding of. It is also important because entrepreneurship is crucial to the subject of my research - Grime. Wretch32 and his manager XYZee (Zeon), gave personal accounts of their experience which helped me to put my what they said in a cultural and social context. I was truly inspired by the humility and positivity that they shared, not that I expected anything less. The drive, determination and adaptability they posses motivated me even further! I loved the concept of paying it forward. I hope my work does the same in an intellectual sense where they take the reigns for the practical. These are the representations that should be more commonplace in wider British society!

Hearing industry experts sharing knowledge and experience also helped me to contextualise their role and got me thinking how I could incorporate it into my research. I didn't get much chance to network today, but I definitely was a valuable experience. 

So it has been a very busy month and there has been a lot to be inspired by and a lot to digest. Next month should be quieter conference-wise, but there is plenty of work ahead.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Trials & Tribulations...

After what has been a very stressful 18 months. I am finally out the other side. My background in race and ethnic relations, specifically ethnic privilege and micro-aggressions became a practical exercise!

Anyway, I have resumed voice work and have begun refocussing on my research. One thing the last 18 months has taught me is I am determined and my passion for both my research and vocals has never faltered - even when it was impossible to engage with either because of pressing issues resulting from other people's misguided agendas...

Expect more updates, much more frequently!

Right now I am exploring a range of narratives into Hip Hop, which Grime is rooted in (amongst other genres), race, gender, religion, social, cultural, political...


Saturday, 18 June 2011


It has been a very long time since I blogged here (as you can see) and unfortunately I haven't done much at all. This is due to 'issues' which have cropped up and needed to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. I am very disappointed about this, because this research is one of the most important things to me at this moment in my life. Luckily those 'issues' are being dealt with... slowly but surely. When I am able to, I intend to resume my studies ASAP.