12th ELIA Conference reflections

¡Hola! I have just come back from the sunny, beautiful and civilized city of Seville, Spain where I attended and presented my paper (please see the abstract here): http://lantern.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/?p=7265#comment-2295). Last month Richard, Fitri and I also participated at a conference at the University of Cordoba, Spain. Some of the experiences I gained from participating at these two “international” conferences were new to me.

Sutraphorn Tantiniranat (aka Khwan)

Sutraphorn Tantiniranat (aka Khwan)

One of the conference rooms

One of the conference rooms

The most striking one is probably about the time. Days in Spain seem to be very very very long as well as the conference programme which started from 9.00/9.30 in the morning and finished at 7.30 or later in the evening (with a 2-hour lunch break + a siesta time or a short nap after lunch).  I found it hard to function as I never got to bed before midnight in Spain, so, attending every presentation was impossible for me. I then realized that prefer a smaller conference with a focus (e.g. the Cultnet in Durham and BAAL IC-SIG) where the topics are more relevant to me. However, I love Spain especially their foods, drinks and ways of life (which I think are very civilized!)

Thinking about my PhD main study is always my goal when presenting at and attending a conference. In the latest paper presentation, I heard myself talking about a number of things which emerged from this thinking. For example, the contextual background regarding the ASEAN and the increasingly interconnected (intercultural) ASEAN used to be at the back of my study but now it’s coming to the fore. This means that I was thinking only about Thailand when I was drafting my original proposal, but now I think bigger in terms of possible contributions that my study might make.

During my latest presentation, also, I listened to myself talking about the choices that I made regarding the methods, and I heard that I was talking about them with confidence and authority. My paper may be different from other presenters’ at that conference in a way that I didn’t spend a lot of time “reviewing literature” (this could be one of my weak point?), but the audience seemed to react quite well (with nods and murmurs) when I said something like “Having been engaging with policy documents in the context and engaging with related literature, I came up with my own understanding of what ‘intercultural skills’ might mean in my context”.

I also heard myself talking about my topic from different perspectives (e.g. policy discourse, teacher discourse, textbooks and relevant literature. All these came from every presentation I gave since my Panel presentation (PhD proposal presentation). I have used every paper as a stepping stone towards the same goal (my topic). (And if you try googling the keywords “intercultural” and “ASEAN” you will find some of my papers on the first page).

Thank you for reading about my process of learning and growing up as a researcher. This process is made up with some small steps that I have made. This way works for me, but probably not for others who think and do things much faster than me.  

The University of Seville, the old tobacco factory.

The University of Seville, the old tobacco factory.




  • Susan Dawson

    Catching up with this blog after a break. Loved reading about this Khwan, and I agree with Achilleas re literature reviews. My first international conference experience was in Poland and I remember listening to lots of PhD literature reviews given as presentations and getting quite bored. I think it must be a real skill to give a interesting presentation based around a literature review. The best I have heard I think was the one by Melissa Chaplin at CultNet – she basically gave a review of the literature she was going to use in her study, but she did it in a highly engaging and informative way. I think that was mainly because she was answering the why/why not/so what questions all the way through rather than just listing everyone who has ever written anything about her subject.

    Cafe con hielo and tapas! Wonderful! I agree about the Spanish way of life! (tried to order a cafe con hielo in France one day. My French is pretty useless and the waiter didn’t know any English, so after lots of attempts, mimes and so on, we finally got there with ‘cafe on the rocks’!

  • I really enjoyed reading this, Khwan!

    Reacting to one of the remarks you made, I think that you shouldn’t feel too apprehensive about de-emphasising the literature review. In the context of a conference presentation, time is a valuable resource, and you need to use it carefully so as to share your own valuable insights, using the literature only to provide context. After all, that’s why the audience is there: Not to hear, once again, what they might have already read several times in the literature, but rather to learn about all the exciting things that you have found in your research. Right?

  • Siti Fitriyah

    Well-done Khwan 😉 That is great that now you are on the front page of the ‘intercultural’ and ‘ASEAN’ google search 🙂 Congratulations!! It’s indeed a brilliant idea to keep your presentations topic in line to make it into one big collage. You are building your portfolio already 🙂

    About Spain, yeah couldn’t agree more 🙂 I do enjoy the weather, food, and the life style. Living the life to the fullest (Love sitting in the cafe near the street enjoying tapaz and jugo de naranja and cafe con hielo 😀