And so the thesis on Korean shamanism in America takes two steps forward, one step back.
This morning I met with Professor Como and shared my idea. He called it promising, let me know about following proper research protocols, and suggested several professors for me to talk to. Then this evening I met with my advisor, Professor Charles Armstrong, and he gave me the green light to move forward on a study of Korean shamanism. I shared with him my passion for modern Korea, and for deepening understanding and appreciation of those parts of the culture that Koreans themselves might overlook, and he told me to pursue what interests me most.
Both professors cautioned me about the challenges of fieldwork, and Armstrong worried that I might have trouble finding people to talk to. That’s my biggest concern, actually. What if I go ahead but can’t find any practitioners who will share their experiences with me? I left my meeting with Professor Armstrong feeling elated, only to find when I got home that one of my leads had dried up: a Korean friend asked a fortune teller if he’d participate in my research, and he said no.
So I have a green light, and I have ideas, and I have worries. Professor Armstrong suggested that I not worry about research methodologies yet, and instead just immerse myself in the literature on Korean shamanism. That seems like a good place to start.