Outside of research, Diljeet is active as a professional musician. She currently sits on the Musicians' Union Regional Committee for Scotland and Northern Ireland, where her interest lies again in promoting equality in the industry and the trade union movement. Diljeet is also a member of Collect:If, a network at Glasgow Women's Library for Women of Colour in the creative industries in Scotland, and the Disability Research Edinburgh network, which brings together practitioners and researchers interested in disability equality.
Diljeet wears lots of hats, which you can find out more about on her blog at diljeetbhachu.wordpress.com, and she also tweets a lot @DiljeetB_Flute.
I wear lots of hats. I also work amongst different circles of people that until recently were very much separate from one another. In each of these circles, my identity might shift; with each hat I assume a different identity. My PhD journey has very much been one of figuring out my identities, as I find my circles merging into one big Venn diagram. Following observations I’ve made as a member of a large Facebook networking group, Women in the Arts Scotland (WAS), and various experiences within academia, including my current research in music education, I’ve recently been exploring the mechanisms by which we give ourselves and others identity labels.
Exploring identities in academia and the arts
Identity is a theme that has run strong throughout my PhD research: teacher identity; musical identity; academic identity; social identity; family identity. I’ve noticed both in my research and in wider discussions taking place around me (@WeTheHumanities, WAS) some issues around the negotiation and validation of such identities. In particular I am interested in how people come to self-identify as artists and creatives, and how this might be influenced by those around us.
As someone who has taken her musical identity for granted, in a sense, I have been surprised by the number of creative people, particularly women, who don’t feel they have the right to claim an artistic identity, whether because they compare themselves to others, or think such identities are reserved for those making art professionally and/or to earn a living. Given the strength of my own musical identity, I’ve had to learn to try to understand how others who perhaps are as musically active might not experience the same sense of identity, and my research interest lies in exploring why this is so.
Having spent some time working in inclusive arts, where anyone who participates in making music is considered a musician, whilst interrogating others’ views on who can be musical or be a musician, I need to think carefully and be ready to justify my position on the matter. At the heart of my inclusive practice is a pro-active effort to not judge what is subjective and personal. External validation and criteria seem to be a big part of identity formation for my research participants, and that’s something I’ve seen amongst my academic-musician (or non-musician) friends.
Imposter syndrome - why do people feel like frauds?
What happens when someone doesn’t feel they have the right to an identity? In academia, we call it imposter syndrome, and over the last few years I’ve noticed it cropping up outside of academia, most often when talking to (you guessed it) creatives. What is it about academia and the arts that creates such tension over the right to claim an identity? Why do we seek external validation on something so personal as our art? Is it because of judgement? Where do constructs of identity come from? Who decides who can be something?
What makes an artistic identity legitimate? Recognition? Payment and/or professionalisation? Are some art forms considered more creative or artistic than others?
Researching with an identity
As a researcher, my own identity is infused in my research. It influences what I research, who I research with, how I conduct my research. I cannot ignore my identity when I do research. No researcher can ignore their identity. However it seems many do fail to acknowledge it when they share their research.
What does this mean for research? Our identities shape how we write and talk about our work, and offer insight into how we have conducted our research. If we do not acknowledge who we are, we do not acknowledge our biases, our assumptions, our privileges.