AU talking to me?
Yesterday I picked up a stray Auckland University convocation booklet - listing this season's graduates - that was left by one of the begowned, trenchered intellectual elite... at the pub.
It's fascinating. The achievements of each doctoral student especially so. There is some amazing work being done in the field of eyesight/vision/optics - although the wider purpose of "The Avian Entopallium" is not clear apart from the student gaining employment "in Dr Wild's laboratory, investigating aspects of sensorimotor integration in songbirds." Dr Wild himself has a DSc for his work on the avian brain. There's a b-grade movie in there somewhere.
Other work ranges from the seemingly irrelevant/wanky/indulgent, "Constructing the 'Other': On being a Man and a nurse" to the utterly perplexing, "An in vivo Investigation of Oxaliplatin- and Paclitaxel-induced Peripheral Neuropathy" and let's not leave out "Supramolecular Fullerene Porphyrin Assemblies" - stuff you couldn't really bullshit your way through a job interview about. Then there's the startlingly simple "Video Surveillence" of Dr Qi Zhang, following her break-through "Robot Vision" paper of 2001. It sounds as much like a sci-fi comic as it does a cheesy b-grade movie!
It is interesting to note the large amount of doctoral theses by women, about women:
"Recognising Women's Responses to Heart Disease Symptoms: Different Groups Respond in Different ways"
"'Their Stories, Our Stories, My Stories' The Intersectionality of Age and Gender Through the Voices of Mid-life Sportswomen"
"'Mr Jones' Wives': World War II War Brides of NZ Servicemen"
"TV Love: Television and Technologies of Intimacy" (the Mary Tyler Moore Show seems to be a major focus)
"Aroha's Granddaughters: Representations of Maaori Women in Maaori Drama and Theatre 1980-2000"
But also the nature of some of the topics that women pursue:
"...Parents of Pre-school Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Issues of Access"
"The prediction of functional outcome after stroke"
"Transcending Cancer: Narratives of Long-term Survivorship"
"Improving Outcomes for Suicidal Adolescents"
"Therapeutic Effects of Massage on Coping with Stress and Migraine: A self-regulatory Perspective"
"Inter-country Adoption of Eastern European Children in NZ: Issues of Culture"
"Emotional Control and Breast Cancer: Implications for Coping..."
Psychology and Education are probably weighted to females anyway, but it is interesting the sorts of subjects covered and the description. The word "coping" appears at least twice. There are probably equal numbers of male and female doctorates - and the sort of issues that females are interested in are generally different than the males.
Men's topics include:
"Effects of the Argentine Ant... on NZ Native Forest" (Eradication on Tiritiri Matangi island reserve seems to have worked well)
"Is the Decline of Democracy in Papua New Guinea Inevitable? A Democratic Audit of Papua New Guinea"
"NZ Defence Acquisition Decision-making: Politics and Processes"
"Darkness, Death and Distortion: A Sociological Examination of Moral Panic Theory and the Gothic Subculture"
And can you tell this guy was a journalist: "The Matrix Ate My Baby: Play, Technology and the Early Childhood Subject"
I am of course drawing on the ones that contribute to my idea that men and women value different things. I am always astounded by the immense amount of work and intelligence that makes up the Univeristy of Auckland. Even the time and effort expended on issues I would consider of minimal utility is still a great credit to the student undertaking it.
Not so much in the doctoral roll but in the vast amount of undergraduate students. When I graduated BA in 1995 there were hardly any Asians, and I mean maybe only a couple of dozen, from the Arts Faculty. I put this down to (and this is a decade ago I must emphasise) the composition of the Asian students (and they totalled at least 20% even then) being almost entirely overseas students studying commerce. Nowdays the migrant community is probably sending their kids through like the normal Pakeha middle class people they are supposed to be. I still can't see parents in Asia sending their kids to Auckland to study for a BA unless it was a conjoint degree with something practical!
But it isn't just the dry wasteland of commerce that attracts high Asian numbers, Science and Engineering are especially popular. The Education Faculty is almost entirely deviod of Asians - there might be five (and two Indian names) out of the 300+ graduating. Less than 2%. Now let's look at the names for BCom: out of about 800 graduating, maybe a third. No doubt most of these are international students.
The names must be a nightmare. Some are so similar - some identical.
My theory of Chinese names is that they are the most efficient manner of, well not so much naming as numbering, the vast population. With a well founded, multi-millenia history of bureaucracy and record keeping I think they developed the easist way of keeping track and recording millions of individuals. You can't have a roll call with names like Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten Windsor or Henare Whakahuehue Te Kariatiana Kahurangi Ngakawa-Smith times 1.3 billion - it is utterly impractical. It also doesn't fit with the Chinese view of the cheapness of human life (massacres/human rights abuses/prisoner organ harvesting/executions etc.) it is far to individualistic to have such long names, especially if you're going to be charged, tried and executed all within 48 hours for doing something the corrupt official running your district doesn't like. What's the point of spending all that time filling it out on the death orders when Cha Phi Win or He Wha Nga will suffice. It's like (to an outsider) they have a list of only 100 basic names with very slight variations permissable perhaps with a small fee. Maybe if you live past 20 you get a middle name?
Efficiency. Data input effeciency. That's what it looks like. Like the language generally: there aren't any joining words in Chinese - it isn't "Do you have the time please?" it's just "time!" or perhaps on a really formal occasion "time now!". It sounds incredibly rude and abrupt to English-only/NZ ears.
So with that totally unresearched series of assertions in mind check out the problems that our almost entirely non-Asian, non-Chinese academic and general staff have to deal with nowdays on a personal and administrative point of view and imagine if these guys all turned up in the same class:
From the list of this year's BCom graduates alone:
Yuan Tian x2
Dan Li x3
Qi, Qian and Qin Zhang
And it goes on and on and I haven't got time, but the old Abbot and Costello "Who's on First" routine springs instantly to mind. Yu talking to Mei?