It is January 2013 – a new month in a new year. The last month of the last year, I took my time to reflect on the data I have gathered so far, and on the path I want to take from now on. Not easy: one of the difficulties of doing explorative anthropological research is that you gather a lot of interesting data – too much for just one research. What do you do with all that data? What data do you develop further, and which interesting topics do you drop for now (“put it in the fridge” for a possible next research project?)?
I now know my interest and the research I want to develop further. I have decided to fully focus on religion in Hong Kong, leaving the development of religion in mainland China out of the research. A wise decision given the sensibility of religion in the mainland, especially in these months with the changing of the Party’s Communist leaders.
I have decided to focus on the continuously changing productions and constructions of spaces, people and religious institutions in present-day Hong Kong society, by looking at at least one Buddhist and one Catholic institution and the people that visit these institutions. Basically, I will try to answer three different questions: a. “How is Hong Kong space socially constructed and produced?”, b. “What are the effects of these constructions and productions on people’s lived religions?”, and c. “In what way do religious institutions adjust themselves to these constructions and productions of life and lived religions?”.
So the plan for further research is there – as is the time to do it. I still have almost six months left, until the end of June, to research this. I have contacted the religious institutions I want to research, and have had some positive replies back. I have my tape recorder, my note books, the questions I want to ask, and the time to do it.
But more importantly: I have the energy and interest to do it again. If these coming months turn out to be as good as I hope they will be, my research will be great in the end. And if not, I can always do as many praying and meditation as I need to do to make it work anyway.