The challenges of working on an international research project during a global pandemic…

As it had been a while since my last update I thought I would write a post on my research project. One of the reasons why there has been such a long time since my last post is because I was unfortunately not able to go on my research trip to Canberra, Australia last month due to travel restrictions as a result of Covid-19…This was a real shame as I was looking forward to undertaking research at the National Archives of Australia and the National Library of Australia. I had also arranged a Visiting Fellowship at the Australian Studies Institute at the Australian National University during my stay in Canberra. It would have been great to catch up with friends and colleagues there. Alas I have had to put these plans on hold indefinitely. I hope I might be able to make it to Australia early next year, but we shall have to wait and see…


But I have been keeping myself busy on the research project front in the meantime. I have continued to make notes on the research that I just about managed to carry out in London, UK, specifically at the National Archives of the UK and the British Library, back in March, before both of these institutions closed down again due to Covid-19. In fact it has taken me longer than planned to make my notes as I really managed to amass quite a bit of material in the two week research trip that I had there! This past week in particular I had a very exciting moment where I came across material which was just ‘gold’ for my project, i.e. it directly related to several of my research questions which was just wonderful 🙂 However, making notes on the material that I gathered in what was the ‘metropole’ during the period of my project, got me quite excited to think about what layers I could add to this in what was considered the ‘periphery’ during the period of my project as well.


With the uncertainty surrounding international travel I have been giving some serious thought about what I could do if I was not able to travel overseas to Australia and Canada in the first half of next year…I am quite methodological in my approach to research, i.e. I conduct secondary research and make notes, make lists of primary sources to consult, carry out archival research, make notes on this material, and then write papers which I will hopefully then turn into articles, and ultimately bring all of this together and write a monograph. However, the research that I carried out in London, UK was intended to be the starting point for the archival research of all my four case studies: Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and South Africa. The plan was to build on this with archival research in each of the four countries, and write a paper on each case study after I had visited a particular country. But if my overseas research trips are unfortunately further delayed then I might have to consider writing an overarching article on the four case studies in the meantime. As I mentioned above I certainly have no shortage of material available to do this.


Practical considerations also come to mind, i.e. primarily funding. I am very grateful to have received funding from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong for my research project. However, I have been given the impression by my university that I should hopefully be allowed to push my funding allocated for a particular year to a subsequent one due to Cover-19. But trying to get an extension of the end point of my project could prove much more difficult…This is a real concern as if I am not able to go on my research trips soon then completing what was quite an ambitious research project to begin with  in a shortened timeframe could be too much of a tall order…I will try to be optimistic though and hope that I will be able to go on two overseas research trips in the first half of next year, be really efficient in making my notes on material that I gather in both places, and hopefully have two papers written by the end of August 2021, even if in draft form, which would put me back on track.


When I started working on my research project last year it never occurred to me that I would not be able to go overseas to carry out my research…I am sure I am not the only one who now finds themselves in this unprecedented situation…I just wanted to add that it saddens me to see so many people become infected with Covid-19 all over the world, and some of those people go on to lose their lives 😦 And I am very grateful that I or loved ones have not contracted the virus either. In the bigger scheme of things not being able to go on overseas research trips might not seem like such a big deal. But it is my job and a part of my expected responsibilities, and has financial implications, as well as career ones, as I was also obviously expecting certain publications to hopefully come out of my research project too within a certain timeframe.


Here is hoping that my next update will be much more positive and I am making plans to go on an overseas research trip 🙂

Published by Associate Professor Jatinder Mann

I am an Associate Professor of History at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. I am British and of South Asian descent, specifically from the Punjab. I have also lived and worked in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Hong Kong. I am currently working on a new research project on the ‘Transnational Identities of the Global South Asian Diaspora in Australia, Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand, and South Africa, 1900s-1940s’. I am also the author of two books. The most recent is Redefining Citizenship in Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand (2019). I am the sole editor of Citizenship in Transnational Perspective: Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (2017). I am also a co-editor of a special issue of the British Journal of Canadian Studies on ‘Canada 150’, published in 2018 by Liverpool University Press. I have published numerous articles in front-ranking and emerging interdisciplinary journals. I am also a co-editor in the forthcoming Revisiting the British World: New Voices and Perspectives with Peter Lang Publishing and Documents on Australian Foreign Policy: Australia in War and Peace, 1914-1919 with UNSW Press. I am the editor for a book series on ‘Studies in Transnationalism’ with Peter Lang Publishing, New York. I am also the Creator and Manager of the Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand Studies Network (ACNZSN). I am the Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Australian, Canadian, and Aotearoa New Zealand Studies (JACANZS). I was also awarded the prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Alberta in 2014. I was the recipient of the highly competitive Endeavour International Postgraduate Research Scholarship for my doctoral research at the University of Sydney. I have also held visiting fellowships at King’s College London, the Australian National University, Carleton University, and Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington.

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