I am not only an academic. I have been involved in all kinds of other activities and projects, mostly in areas of media and education. Even as an academic, I have always tried to reach out, share my knowledge and serve as a public intellectual.
Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretative in search of meaning.
Clifford Geertz (The Interpretation of Cultures)
RESEARCH AND ANTHROPOLOGY
I found my true calling in Anthropology but my passion goes beyond the discipline. Through Anthropology, I have cultivated my appreciation for different cultures and experiences. I’ve also learned to use tools that help me ask the right questions; analyze, understand and interpret behavior; identify and solve problems; and importantly, get along with people.
I have been researching luxury hospitality and gastronomy in the Czech Republic since 2008 and spent altogether almost 2 years in the field working with waiters, cooks, foodies, and journalists. I also conducted extensive archival research and in-depth interviews. The major outcomes are my dissertation Gastronauts of Eastern Europe, master’s thesis, plenty of conference presentations, popular articles, and three academic publications. One of my academic publications is available in English. In it, I invite readers to see hospitality as an arena for negotiating post-socialist transformation of the Czech Republic.
Hajdáková, Iveta. (2013) “Discreet Economy: Luxury Hospitality in the Context of Postsocialist Transformation of Czech Society.” Laboratorium 5(1): 73–97. (http://www.soclabo.org/index.php/laboratorium/article/view/64)
Teaching language as an Anthropologist
I love learning about different cultures and I love sharing my knowledge. I have worked as a language teacher for 9 years and have an extensive experience with using various teaching methods to meet the needs of different types of clients. My main strength is in motivating and encouraging people to engage with language as well as with culture. In my lessons, I give students as much space as possible to speak, ask questions, interact, and use language as a practical tool that allows them to develop their personal and professional interests and needs, and gives them more confidence in real-life situations. As a teacher, I believe in authenticity, empathy, enthusiasm, motivation and humor.
Teaching Anthropology in creative ways
I have worked as a lecturer of Anthropology for graduate and undergraduate students. I taught graduate courses on economic anthropology and postsocialism, in which I drew heavily on my own research of hospitality and luxury in postsocialist context. With undergraduate students, I focused on developing research skills and critical, analytical and creative thinking that they could later use in a variety of professional and academic areas. I assigned readings to introduce key concepts and themes and asked students to practice and experiment with various research methods. Throughout the course, they were required to conduct micro-investigations around 4 themes: the body, space, time, and language. My goal was to encourage students to use ethnography to explore the breadth and depth of various situations, structures, relationships, experiences, etc.
WRITING for a non-profit
For 3 years, I was a contributor for a street magazine published by the nonprofit organization Nový prostor. The mission of Nový prostor is to help people in difficult social and financial situation. Most of the articles I co-authored were focused on gender and social issues. I mostly selected topics that had not been covered by mainstream Czech media. I often wrote about gender inequalities in various areas of social life and the representation of gender by the media, creative industries or science. I also examined phenomena such as superstition, belief in the paranormal, “the science of seduction,” violence, or pop-culture, from the perspective of gender relations. My writing is research-based and research-informed, informative, and entertaining. Several articles gained attention of mainstream media.
EXTRA: BALCONY TV
In 2010, I became a member of a small team of enthusiasts who started a branch of the online music show Balcony TV in Prague. Balcony TV features bands, musicians and performers who play on balconies all over the world. We started as a small project unknown in the community of musicians and developed into a well-established platform with funding and solid fan base. I was with the team from the very beginning when our major challenge was to find locations for shooting, manage the production team and book artists to perform. We recorded during weekends and sometimes even in extreme temperatures (once, we had to do about 10 takes because the strings on a musician’s banjo kept going out of tune due to freezing temperatures). The content we produced consistently improved with every session. My role was mostly as a host but I also helped with production. I left the wonderful team of Balcony TV in August 2012 when I left Prague to become a Fulbright-Masaryk Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.
For a sample of my work as a host, watch the video.
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