Week 12Q: Wrapping Up

How has your research question evolved during the course (or longer)?

My research question has mutated at least two times during the course. Initially, I wanted to write a critical history of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). I wanted to do this because I’ve found that I produce my best research when I’m writing on a topic that interests me. After a bit of reflection, I came to the conclusion that no one in the class was likely to be interested in this question apart from me. Instead of tossing my idea into the trash, I decided to approach it from a different angle. That’s when I came upon the idea of examining the history of BJJ in light of Brazilian-Japanese relations in the first part of the twentieth century. I still think that would make for an interesting study, but it didn’t lend itself to the research methods we were examining in class. That’s when I settled upon an ethnographic study. The impetus for this change in approach came from Professor Hartel’s presentation. Thus, I came up with three different research projects in the course of several months. The hardest part for me, I would have to say, was adopting the research methods of the social sciences (even if they are “salsa-dancing” social sciences). Whereas my background is in English Literature, I didn’t feel comfortable approaching my subject matter through ethnographic methods. What I came to realize was that different research methods call for different subject matter. That’s when I decided to abandon historical research and do something a bit more sociological. And that, in a nutshell, is the story of my research this term. Now back to that assignment!

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