Being allowed to make a presentation at Research Seminar of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Research Institute for the Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, I had little idea of what and how I needed to prepare myself, or how I would interact with other presenters and institute’s researchers and scholars. In addition, as a student of International Relations, I thought it might be challenging to me to convene, and boring to the participants to listen to, theoretical explanations and political rationale of my research. Moreover, the two-hour time available for each presentation was so overwhelming that I could not believe that I would be able to use it up. However, in the end once I started talking I realized that all the pressure and stress was unnecessary.
My presentation was on a part of my dissertation focusing on the actors who exercise decision-making influence over the policies and developments in the hydrocarbon industries in the Gulf Arab oil producing countries and on how those actors came into being and why. Theoretically, I relied on an approach called securitization, which deals with issues of highest importance for countries. In very short, I tried to present a case where despite some differences in name or some function we can find overwhelming evidence for identical actors in those different countries with quite identical functions and roles in the hydrocarbon industry. During the Q&A session, I received a lot of suggestions, comments and remarks for which I am grateful to all participants.
If I sum up most important things I learned and took from this seminar and I think might be useful for future participants, those are the following:
1) The styles of presentations, research and interests naturally differ from person to person and anyone could take anything from each presentation session and question. For example, my presentation was more or less focused on the research method, significance, issues with previous research and explaining what the major hypotheses of my dissertation are. Other presenters, focused on the data they had found or how they intended to build a structure for their theses. I did a PowerPoint presentation standing up, other chose to sit or not using a computer.
2) Being confined to a single university and one or two research seminars, sometimes a PhD student or a scholar needs a different assessment and a view on his/her research. Therefore, among such distinguished specialist on Middle East as those in ILCAA one can get not only comments on his research methods, but ideas for new data on his/her subject and new approaches, or get introduced to some scholar.
3) Science is a collaborative exercise, where research interests and methodology differ, but what it really would never get full of is newer ideas. Therefore, I hope more and more students will dare to present their ideas at this wonderful venue.