Laidlaw Interns: Ann Choi and Danny Payne
March 22, 2016 Leave a comment
In this blog series, participants of the Laidlaw Undergraduate Internship Programme 2016 introduce themselves and their research.
When I began my summer research for the fellowship last year, I envisioned research as a purely academic contribution: I saw myself reading a pile of books, writing, and discovering something new about the Korean War nobody ever knew before. For the summer project with the Laidlaw fellowship, I want to determine how mutual perceptions between South and North Koreans created internal discrimination against people with “bureaucratic” or “socialist” jobs throughout the Korean War and the attempted reconciliation in the early 1970s. My project is entitled ‘Internal Creation of the Other in North-South Korea relations’, supervised by Dr Konrad Lawson. Idid not know much about the Korean War myself when I started my research, so research presented an open field of learning, and this sense of freedom, of looking outwards and shaping my readings and thinking in a way my fancies take me, excited me most of all.
In a similar vein, when I thought of the interview component of my research, I thought of well-ordered dialogues, with my questions and interviewee’s straightforward answers containing coherent narratives about the war. The most memorable part of my research did not turn out to be the amazing discoveries I made but the stories I heard about the Korean War from the interviewees. In particular, an elderly woman left a lasting impression as she discussed her experiences escaping North Korea at the beginning of the war.
I had not realized before how emotions and ethical issues play an integral role in the research process. By interviewing mostly elderly ladies at a welfare centre in Korea, I spent a significantly large part of my time hearing about how their experiences and social positions are continuing to affect their lives today. Overall, I was most struck by how these ladies heavily relied upon the rhetoric that the government used to shape their thinking, even though they were feeling disconnected from it.
Representation and media in particular wield great influence in contemporary society and people’s perceptions of one another. With the help of this research, I am hoping to understand and evaluate the impact of representation and media upon the people from various classes in North and South Korea. By analyzing various written sources and conducting interviews, I am hoping to find out how people interact with media and governmental representation to meaningfully carve out their positions in society.
Before telling you about my project, I would like to introduce myself and my background, which may help explain my choice of subject. My name is Danny: I am a 28 year old mature student in the third year of a Modern History degree and before applying to university, I spent seven years working as a butcher in Dundee and Manchester. While employed in this industry, I encountered a range of opinions concerning the morality of what I did for a living. During my time at St Andrews, I have developed an interest in environmental, social, and cultural history, and my project allows me to indulge these interests while investigating a topic with which I have first-hand experience: a rare opportunity for a history student.
My project title is ‘“Meat is Murder”: the Development of Social and Cultural Attitudes Surrounding the UK Meat Industry, c.1964-present’. My research period coincides with the era of modern environmentalism, in which animal rights activists gained increasing media coverage and the meat and poultry industry was embroiled in a number of public health scares, foot-and-mouth disease being one example. Of course, there is more than one perspective in this debate and the economic argument in favour of the meat industry is a compelling one: the sector employs over 67,000 people in the UK.
Dr John Clark has kindly agreed to supervise this project and I would like to thank him as well as all the people involved with the Laidlaw Undergraduate Programme in Research and Leadership for making it possible for me to carry out my research over the summer. This prospect is made much less daunting by the fact that the Laidlaw organisers have assigned me a mentor who took part in last year’s programme: Courtney Barnard. I am certain Courtney’s advice will be invaluable. I would also like to congratulate fellow interns and wish them all the best with their projects.