I work on Muslim entrepreneur networks in the center of Xi’an, and the impact of the development of a tourism economy on their social interactions and on their positioning in Chinese public space. Thanks to the grant that was awarded to me by Noria in 2019, I was able to do field research for a month in China, in order to study trade networks and the making of heritage in Xi’an’s main Muslim district. As a second-year PhD student with no funding, the grant allowed me to pay for my dissertation’s first field study. It was a crucial step because I could put to the test some hypotheses based on preliminary readings.
In addition, I could also begin an ethnographic analysis of food entrepreneurship and so-called ‘cultural’ tourism practices, which led me to better grasp how the folkorization of a Muslim neighborhood such as Xi’an’s downtown contributes to the production of social imaginaries of the cosmopolitan condition in contemporary China. This field work also allowed me to meet local academics and consider future collaborations that will be essential to my dissertation.
Therefore, I think it is crucial that other PhD students have the chance to benefit from such grants, so as to fund their first field studies and move forward with their writing. Noria’s work is all the more valuable as it fosters knowledge sharing between young researchers at conferences where they can present their ongoing work and talk about their experiences in the field.
Noria’s funding in 2019 gave me the opportunity to go to Turkey for two months (from March to May). It was the first time I stayed in the field for over a month during my PhD. I study the construction of political space in Arab migrant communities in Istanbul, so it was essential for me to live among the people I focus on. Moreover, my stay coincided with the municipal elections, which were fraught with debates around Syrian migrants. It was one of the first times that I could integrate Turkish public opinion into my research, as well as domestic political trends relating to the topic. On that occasion, I could also take my first Turkish lessons, which was crucial for living in the field.
Thanks to Noria’s grant, I was able to fund a three-month field study trip to Israel and Palestine in the spring of 2019. Being able to go there in the first year of my PhD allowed me to explore the various sites I had chosen beforehand. My work focuses on funerary geography using qualitative methods: I conducted semi-structured interviews with various local residents, in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah.
My PhD is on working conditions in Haiti’s free economic zones. Noria’s grant gave me the opportunity to begin field work in Haiti by helping to cover my travel expenses. I conducted approximately thirty interviews for my study, each one lasting for one hour on average: three with general supervisors, two with line supervisors, one with a secretary working in the administration of a company in Caracol and 24 with workers from the Caracol and Ouanaminthe industrial parks, in Haiti’s North-East Department. The interviewees were aged between 20 and 48. I met young people who dropped out of school to start working, as well as mothers and fathers who are employed in those free zones. That first field study also allowed me to collect data on the ground so as to better understand free zones and to exchange views with other researchers working on the same subject in Haiti.