“Whatever your eye can see, it's vecik.” This line resonated with me while I was conducting my fieldwork in Taiwan with the indigenous Paiwan village known as Paridrayan. Good friend and prolific artist, Etan Pavavaljung, once mentioned to me this Paiwan concept known as vecik. The concept, briefly speaking, implies an interconnectedness that links all tangible things with each other. From humans, rocks, and trees to winds and words, they are connected to each other through vecik...“However,” he added, “something like poetry can be vecik.”. He continued, “let’s take for example, a village elder reciting a poem about his childhood. He recites verses about his flower garden from his childhood home as well as reminiscing his childhood days. These words become vecik.”
To this day, I love fried Spam and eggs. The crunchy and salty slice of processed mystery meat dipped in just cooked egg yolk is one of my favourite breakfasts. After all, it was the breakfast that I grew up eating on Sunday mornings when we’d all sit around the table and mum would hand out these small rectangles of fried salty goodness. I didn’t think it was that strange till I had a conversation with some of my friends who furrowed their little brows in disapproval, “ew, Spam is gross, it’s like dog food”. I quickly learned that my beloved Spam breakfasts were not as commonplace as they seemed, but rather they were an oddity. In a world of bacon and egg rolls with hash browns, my beloved family breakfasts of Spam and rice were distinctly different.
Amusing anecdotes about fieldwork were, from what I could tell, basic currency throughout university halls, on conference panels, and in graduate student lounges. Many of my teachers and advisors had often relayed similar, if self-deprecating, stories about their own spectacular mishaps or moments of levity while working with people in every context imaginable: research participants, colleagues, friends, and community leaders alike. So why then was this reaction to my story so sudden and so visceral?
In late April of this year, it was announced that twelve of the wealthiest and best supported teams from across Europe would be competing in a new competition across Europe. The Super League was to be played in place of the current Champions League. However, places in the Super League would not be decided on where a side finished in the existing domestic league table but instead the league would have no relegation or promotion and access to the league would have been based on prior agreement by the founding clubs. These clubs were the richest with the largest global audiences but not necessarily the best achieving teams. Within three days of the announcement of the new league, all of the English teams who had committed to participating had withdrawn in the face of giant public backlash. The proposal was, seemingly without exception, hated by every football fan including those of the teams that would have joined the league. So why did this particular proposal arouse such anger and disgust?