About Whom I Have Become…

Hi everybody! It is not easy to talk about oneself, especially when you are not sure who your audience is. Still, I will not let the amorphous ambiguous unidentifiable audience scare and silence me. For this post, I want the main audience to be the 2014-2015 Praxis Fellows.

We are on the way to becoming a team and for this crucial achievement to become reality, time is not the only one that has to do the work. I consider introductions like this an important step towards team building. So, let me tell you what I think you need to know about me.

I was born in Korca, Albania but moved to Tirana, the capital, for my high school years at the ‘Mehmet Akif’ Turkish college. I completed my undergraduate studies in International Relations and International Economics at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. Afterwards, I pursued a Masters degree in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London, UK. Another important experience for me was being a Visiting Scholar for nine months at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute of SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC. I got interested in transition economies and the role state-society relationships played in shaping or influencing the outcomes of economic policies and reforms, plus acquired skills on organizing events that involved both academics and policy makers. Now, I am in the fifth year of the Sociology PhD program, preparing a dissertation proposal on the emergence of a new form of regulation in the United States – ratings, in two fields – healthcare and finance. This project is part of my broader interest and fascination with innovation as a process of knowledge formation and manipulation.

Having worked for some time with the literature on the diffusion and implementation of innovations among organizations, I have developed the conviction that we need to better conceptualize innovation, recognizing its multidimensionality and its transformation through time. I view the Praxis Program as an opportunity to engage more actively with my ideas on innovation in an environment that embodies and ‘lives’ some of the most essential practices for creative production: collaboration, interdisciplinarity, vision and passion. I am curious and eager to learn about project-based teams in action; especially the processes through which collaboration becomes possible when anchored around an idea that is developed collectively – though in the case of Ivanhoe the idea is given to us from another collectivity and other collaborative efforts.

I am looking forward to getting involved and reflecting systematically on the processes through which innovation emerges and is transformed by bringing into a community of practice people of different backgrounds like me and you. I hope this experience will help solidify my identity as a researcher that is ‘in’ not ‘out of the world’. In the Praxis Program, I want to learn about the tools that can help researchers make their ideas grow and matter. I expect to broaden my knowledge and enhance my skills on project management, team work coordination, data visualization, and effective communication of ideas to multiple audiences.

The most important thing I would bring to a collaborative digital humanities project – and a team like ours – is my rich experience with managing differences and change. As I mentioned above, I have passed through four different systems of education (Albania, Turkey, UK, US), wandered intellectually among three different fields of research (politics, economics, and sociology), and acquired valuable insights comparing different cultural configurations. My education has been in English most of the time but I have good knowledge of several other foreign languages: Italian, Turkish, French and basic German, Greek, and Russian. I hope who I have become till now can be a modest contribution to what we want us to become in the future – an effective team with a collaborative digital humanities project that addresses a diverse audience with global not only local concerns. Furthermore, having read some literature on collaboration and knowledge-sharing/transfer among teams and organizations, I believe I can bring to the project and the team more awareness of the processes that enable collaborations to succeed and be productive.

Who I have become till now is due to several communities and beings that supported me – my families and friends, my husband Ali, our cats Sheqeri and Piperi, and our birds Dielli dhe Qielli, among others. I am grateful that I have the chance to continue becoming and grow in conversations with you dear 2014-1015 Praxis fellows supported by a supportive community like the Scholars’ Lab.

With Albanian nationality, a major in International Relations and minor in International Economics from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Turkey, an MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics (LSE) in the UK, an academic Turkish husband, two domestic shorthair US cats and two origin-not-known parakeets, I am on the path…

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