Tuesday, 18 September 2012

When I had my PhD ceremony it was just supposed to be a ritual because I had already passed. My para nymph, a Dutch farmer leader was embarrassed by his informal clothes and refused to sit on the stage until my other para nymph - luckily a Dutch colleague from my MSc persuaded him. Her clothes also clashed with mine and I found the whole thing strangely relaxing. Then my Utrecht supervisor who did an amazing amount of work making sure that my ethnochemistry was correct asked a question about the ethics of using a snakebite plant if it was known to cause cancer. I was amazed; "you've just been bitten by a snake" you have to survive first and you can worry about the cancer after was the rest of my reply. I heard the rest of the goings on afterwards from my supervisor. One of the committee members tried to persuade the others to fail me even though I had already passed. He was the only one I had not invited on and was appointed by WUR. He did not like my thesis, because he was a hard-core scientist who had already had run ins with my previous department of Ecological Agriculture. Luckily my committee included the former head of that same department, a Utrecht Veterinarian head and another ethnovet. I also found out afterwards that my supervisor had tried to influence me against inviting a Dutch farmer (who I had met while doing a class project for my Masters) because he was the first Dutch farmer to sit on stage in the Aula for 40 years. My PhD thesis is still found in many libraries, but not as many as I had hoped when I sent out about 300 copies.