A 2016 Update

It’s been a long time since I posted on the blog and it’s also quite late in the year to be giving a 2016 update, but I hear there is no time like the present to get things done so without further adieu…

2016 has been quite a busy year for me.

The first major milestone (and one four years in the making) is that I submitted, successfully defended, and completed the requested minor corrections for my PhD thesis. So I am now done with my DPhil at Oxford and have become Dr. Christopher Kavanagh. All I have left is the official ceremony to attend (which I will do in November) but there is no more work to be done on the thesis. As you can imagine this is a pretty big deal for me and one that I am still internally celebrating, although externally nothing has really changed in my day-to-day life.

Me prior to my thesis defence in Oxford’s archaic garb

The next noteworthy development is that I managed to secure a post-doctoral research position at… (wait for it)… Oxford! Yes, that’s right, I am staying exactly where I am and continuing to work as a member of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology (ICEA) f0r at least the next three years. More specifically I will be continuing to work with my PhD supervisor, Harvey Whitehouse, as a coordinating researcher on a large scale ERC funded project that is set to examine rituals and their effects on people using a diverse range of approaches. Location wise I will remain primarily based at Masaki Yuki’s social psychology lab in Hokkaido University in Sapporo but will be travelling about to field sites/meetings outside Japan as and when is necessary.

So that’s what has been going academia wise. Now before the new project kicks off in November I am working hard to finalise a bunch of journal articles based on data from my thesis and also finishing up some older papers that I had put aside during my PhD studies.

In terms of blogging I have been much less productive. I was kindly offered the opportunity to start a new blog over at Patheos which I did and you can find here. It’s called Cognitive Demons and it addresses very similar topics to what I was writing about here, minus the more personal political commentary. However, you might also notice that I haven’t exactly been consistent with my posting there- which is a shame and something I am hoping to rectify.

And this leads me to the issue of what to do about this blog. I have a strong attachment to this blog not just because of how long I’ve had it but also because this remains my own space where I have complete independence and do not need to be concerned with things like ‘for profit’ copyright restrictions. This is not to suggest I have experienced any problematic editorial oversight at Patheos but it is still the case that this space feels more like my personal ‘home turf’.

When I joined Patheos I checked if it was possible to ‘cross post’ my content so that the blog here wouldn’t languish without any content updates for months and was reassured that there was there no issue with doing so. Unfortunately the only thing I failed to factor into my considerations was whether I would remember/be motivated to do so myself and it seems that this was really the only crucial factor. With that mea culpa I am now giving notice that over the next few days I will be migrating a copy of all of the existing Cognitive Demons content over to here. My goal in doing so is that I would still like to maintain one location where all of my dispersed writing can be collated and easily referenced, regardless of where I end up writing and blogging.

You might also remember that I was previously attached to the Genealogy of Religion blog run by Cris Campbell. The website has been dormant for over a year and I haven’t heard from Cris so I’m guessing that he also has gotten a bit snowed under by his academic work also. If so he has my sincere sympathies but whatever the case I won’t be posting on the site for now so just a in case you were wondering update.

I’ve also been writing some articles for Aeon- a website that hosts short and long form essays and documentaries. I just recently wrote a long piece about definitions of religion, ‘religion’ in Japan and the widespread bias of focusing on beliefs rather than practices. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and the response it garnered.

If interested you can check it out here: Can Religion be based on ritual practice without belief?
I also wrote a shorter post about the debates over Easter Island: The Easter Island controversy has no single simple answer.

So that’s how things stand right now.

Any questions or things you are wondering about feel free to ask in the comment section but expect updates and content to start appearing again over the next few days.

Side note: Finished writing this during the first Trump/Clinton presidential debate- it’s just so infuriating to watch