On wearing many hats at once…

This is a game I’ve been playing for a while – seeing how many proverbial hats I can wear simultaneously.  Maybe I shouldn’t do it on purpose, but it’s hard to avoid when I’m at conferences with lots of sessions relating to different things I do, or find myself changing hats mid-conversation because I’ve unexpectedly found an overlap.

I know lots of other people who wear many hats, especially amongst my PhD friends, so I wanted to ask how other people negotiate their hat-wearing.  There is no research without the researcher, so how much of myself should I bring into my work?

Are there rules?

Have you set yourself rules on when to keep your hats separated?  I’ve tried to take of the activist hat when I’m researching, or the research hat off when I’m doing anything other than research, but more often than not  I find the lines blurred and it raises questions of my motivations.

Making things more complicated are the conflicting voices around me – some telling me to leave advocacy at the door, but then being surrounded by activist-researchers.

Being an activist-researcher

My research is influenced by my activism.  My activism is helped by my research.  My activism therefore influences my research, but if I try to completely remove it, I begin to ask myself “why am I doing this?” – I need activism to remind me and keep me motivated.

Is it possible to wear both hats?  Can I completely take away the activist hat when it comes to my research?  To be an advocate does raise issues of bias in research, but I’m not sure that trying to avoid activism while doing research is possible, or if it would even make a difference to this bias.  By being open about my activism, I can at least keep myself in check, and be reflexive and transparent in my academic work.

When should I not be an activist?

I’m going to leave this one here as a question – do you think there are situations where I should take off my activist hat?  If so, please share your thoughts below…


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