Abdul-Halik Azeez is an independent researcher from Colombo, Sri Lanka. His interests lie at the nexus of critical discourse analysis, social media and hate speech. He received a travel grant to atend the Hyderabad conference and present two papers along with his colleague Dr. Carmen Aguilera Carnerero. Virtual communities and the religious-political interface was presented in to the Islam and Media Working Group and The construction of Muslim identity in Western cyber discourse was presented to the Religion, Communication and Culture Working Group. Abdul-Halik sent this report.
IAMCR was the first time in my life where I not only presented an academic paper at an international conference, but presented an academic paper, period. Being an independent scholar currently not directly attached to an academic occupation, I have to start off by expressing my sincere thanks to IAMCR for showing confidence in my work, which has been a major personal boost.
The conference itself was an intellectually overwhelming experience, in a very pleasant way. In my research space in Sri Lanka, I get very little opportunity to interact with academics with interests that match mine. Therefore IAMCR was a huge and welcome chance to converse with like-minded individuals who more often than not ended up teaching me many things in the process.
I appreciated the egalitarian environment the conference created. Being a young scholar, and a novice to the academic world, I was made to feel just as welcome as any experienced campaigner and felt encouraged to participate and engage in discussions in the various presentations and talks I went to. The participants in the working groups where I presented my papers, along with my colleague, were very constructive and helpful with their feedback and gave us plenty of ideas and suggestions to pursue in order to improve and expand on our work. This was to me invaluable, and something I would not have had access to otherwise.
What I perhaps enjoyed the most was the opportunity to sit in on discussions that dealt with research topics concerning social implications at the very cutting edge of technology, communication and culture. I found them hugely relevant and practically focused, and some were extremely ambitious in scope. All in all I came away very, very inspired to do better in my own work.
Looking back, attending IAMCR most crucially made me feel a part of a like-minded community. I came back richer, not just in terms of knowledge, but in terms of friends and acquaintances and it feels like I have expanded my network and broadened my horizons.
Not having access to academic grants of my own means that this experience would have been entirely impossible had not IAMCR funded my participation. My gratitude goes not only to the organization but also to its various donors and members who in some way contributed to my presence there.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
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