A field trip to Cyprus got me thinking about worry beads. I began wondering how they might be used by Cypriots to think about their emotions and worries associated with the past, present and future of Cyprus reunification talks. But realised that I ought to begin with what I know best: the worries of sociolegal research.
Deeper and of longer standing are my worries about what it means to do research as a foreigner. Of course in many respects any researcher is always a foreigner, and I hope that this bead may have much to say about that. But my focus in making it was specifically on my 20+ year history as a British researcher in India, Sri Lanka and Cyprus. In each case I have had a relationship with the country that extends beyond the research, but I have never shaken the nagging sense of hit-and-run.
The making of this second bead was triggered by finding a duty free bag as I unpacked from a trip to Cyprus. The words on that bag, together with the image of the airplane taking off, made me think about how being foreign helps you to fulfil your duty to be free (independent) but also opens the risks of carelessness (free from duty). It is these kinds of tensions that underlie research ethics guidance such as this useful statement produced by the Socio Legal Studies Association in 2009.
The bag reminded me that while I was in Cyprus in June 2016 it was announced that the UK had voted by referendum to leave the EU. So the concept of leaving was on my mind when I filmed the taxi ride to the airport; and when, with overtones of shame and sadness, I stole a photo of the EU passport channel at Larnaca Airport.
So I made a worry bead out of the bag, Fimo modelling clay and some other bits and pieces. I was able to units my materialised sociolegal worries about funding and foreign-ness by threading them together.
Finally I made a film combining footage from the taxi trip with footage of the making of my second worry bead.