29th September – 6th October Ben Bowman

A week is a long time in politics (or at least that’s what politicians say) and that’s where we’ll be spending these seven days, in the company of UK youth politics researcher Ben Bowman, AKA @bennosaurus.  His work covers the British riots in 2011, photographic fieldwork and the financial crisis – fascinating and pertinent stuff (although I’m going to need to hear more about the smell testing too!).

Hi! I’m Ben Bowman – @bennosaurus on Twitter – and I am a PhD student at the University of Bath in the UK. I am half British and half American, and I live in the town of Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire. I study young people’s politics in the UK.

A little bit about me. My bachelor’s degree was in Russian and Politics and I lived in Russia for a year, where I taught and studied at Voronezh State University, and worked in a youth volunteer organization. After that I spent some time out of study, working on online youth engagement  projects like imascientist.org.uk.

My contract ran out right in the middle of the crisis and I worked wherever I could find a job, from writing mobile phone manuals, to hammering rivets into aircraft parts, to professional smell testing (yes, seriously!). After that I came back to University and completed an MA in International Politics, and I am now starting the final year of my PhD.

My research is on young people’s politics, and I use creative methods, especially digital photography, to build conversations with young people about their lives, their hopes and fears, and their feelings about society and politics. In my fieldwork I hand out digital cameras to groups of young people in the UK along with a task, something like: “take a picture of something you are proud of in the place where you live”. Politics can feel distant and off-putting, and by building conversations about everyday life I hope my research can explore young people’s lives on their own terms and in their own words. I am looking forward to sharing my research with you.

It really interests me how we talk about young people as members of our society, particularly after the economic crisis, in the UK and the rest of Europe, so on one day of the week I will be tweeting about young people’s politics during the crisis. You can read some of my work on this published online here: https://bath.academia.edu/BenjaminBowman. I also had an article published this summer on the English riots in 2011, which you can read here! http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13688790.2014.912189#.VBL518VdV8E

As well as my research on young politics I have been advising the European Youth Forum on their policies towards the Vote at 16. In May I attended the European Youth Event at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, where I debated on votes at 16 with two politicians. The Vote at 16 is an issue that is very much at the cutting edge of politics, with strong arguments both in support and against, and hopefully we can have a discussion about the Vote at 16 on We The Humanities this week.

I have some other topics lined up: I am starting an open access student journal so we can talk about free information and academic publication, for example. Really, I hope I can keep you interested and I hope that you will send me a lot of replies so that I can meet some of the We The Humanities community over the week!


22nd – 19th September Sophie Stewart

As some of you may know this week is Inspiring Languages Week in the UK and we’re very pleased to have one of the co-ordinators curating for the week (with maybe a few guest appearances from the team).  Following on from @cristobaleandro’s discussions of his passion for languages and also what it means to be Chilean I’m really looking forward to reading what Sophie (and you) think about encouraging language learning and why it’s so important within the humanities.

Hello to all We The Humanities readers and followers from Routes into Languages!

I’d like to introduce myself as Sophie Stewart, Project Manager of the Routes into Languages North East consortium based at Newcastle University. I’m usually to be found @RoutesNE, supported by one of our Student Language Ambassadors. A linguist myself, I graduated with a degree in Arabic Studies before undertaking a graduate internship at the University of Manchester coordinating Peer Support activities in the Faculty of Life Sciences. Following a subsequent move to the North East, I was delighted to be able to return to my Humanities roots, joining the Routes into Languages team last September.

Established in response to the decline in the take-up of language courses from GCSE level onwards, Routes into Languages began work in 2006 as a consortium of universities working together with schools and colleges to enthuse and encourage people to study languages. It operates alongside two sister networks cpmprising the National Network for Interpreting and the National Network for Translation. Funded by HEFCE, the programme entered its second phase in 2013 and is currently set to continue until 2016. You can find out more about what we do by visiting our website.

Our work takes us and teams of Student Language Ambassadors into schools and brings pupils onto university campuses up and down the country, involving partnerships with a wide range of organisations from Third Year Abroad to the Association for Language Learning. Monday 22nd September marks the start of Inspiring Languages Week, an exciting new collaboration with Inspiring the Future – look out for more about this later in the week!

Alongside my colleagues across England and Wales, I am excited to be launching full steam ahead into another year of promoting foreign language learning to young people. We hope that you will be interested in learning about our work and in sharing your thoughts about your own language learning experiences and how we can all work together reverse the current decline to ensure that our young people are able to flourish in a world in which foreign language skills and intercultural awareness are increasingly vital.

15th – 22nd September Cristóbal del Castillo Camus

This week we head to Chile for the first (but hopefully not last!) time with multilinguist and and historian @cristobaleando. Plus we’ll be getting a behind-the-scenes perspective at the museum he works and he’ll be sharing the Chilean National Day with us.

Hello everyone! My name is Cristóbal del Castillo Camus, and I am from Santiago, Chile. I did a BA in History at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and I am looking forward to continue my academic formation soon. In the meantime, I am working as a Historian at a local, public museum in Santiago. Most of the work I do involves transcribing documents, researching about the objects donated to the museum and writing everything you see over there (from the information tags to the information uploaded to social networks). Despite working with mainly mainstream 19th century Chilean History; I must say that my true passion is the Central European 20th century History and its links with Southern Cone countries (i.e., Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay), specially through a social and cultural history view. In fact, one of my dissertation works at University was about the Chilean mainstream media perception of the Solidarity movement during 1980, which was the same year in which there was a referendum to approve the current Chilean constitution.

I also have a strong interest in languages and linguistics. I studied English philology for two years and I have learned French, German and some Italian. At the moment, I am strictly focused on learning Polish and after a recent trip to Poland; I must say I am very impressed with my skills.
During this week, I will propose you to talk about different subjects, such as construction of national identities (especially since on Sept 18th, it is Chilean national day), the Cold War in the Periphery, languages (focusing on dialects and second language learning), secularism, among other topics we may come across during this week.

8th September – 15th September 2014 Maggie Scull

On Monday @wethehumanities travels from Scotland to England for an American researcher who’s working on Northern Ireland.  She’ll be giving as an insight into the Northern Irish Troubles and her work with Four Nations History; the latter feels particularly pertinent the week before our Scotland-based followers will be going to the polls to vote on the independence referendum.  Although the Troubles are part of my personal history (dad was born in NI and mum tells stories of pushing my pushchair down the middle of the street for fear of bombings when we lived in London in the early 80s) I know very little about it; Maggie’s research methods sound fascinating and I for one am looking forward to hearing about her findings.

Hello everyone! I’m Maggie Scull, but you may know me by not so original twitter handle, @MaggieMScull.  You’ll also sometimes find me @4nationshistory but I’ll elaborate more on that later. I’m just beginning the second year of my PhD in History at King’s College London.

Before moving to London, I completed my BA in European History from Boston University with a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  I then relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana to work as a secondary special needs teacher before moving to London to begin my MA in Modern History at King’s.  My experience teaching secondary has shaped me in a variety of ways, which I’ll talk about this week as well.  I’m about to head into my first semester as a graduate teaching assistant so if anyone has advice, feel free to send it my way!

The current working title of my PhD thesis is “The Catholic Church and the Northern Irish Troubles, 1969-1998”.  I look at the Church as an institution: how did it change throughout the Troubles?  Why has little academic research been done on the Church itself but largely focuses on religion? I also work with both private and public archives as well as conducting interviews with priests and former members of paramilitary organisations. My oral history and archive sources can sometimes conflict, which I hope to discuss this week as well.

My subject is very emotionally charged, another topic I hope to cover. How do we delicately handle a very sensitive subject, especially when we’re coming from an “outsider” position?

In addition to my research for my thesis, I have also been developing a Four Nations History Network with Naomi Lloyd Jones (@beingahistorian) also based at King’s.  Our conference, “United Kingdom? Four Nations Approaches to Modern ‘British’ History” will take place on 20 February 2015. You can find more information on our blog here: https://fournationshistory.wordpress.com/

I hope to talk more about our inspiration for the conference, successes/challenges in planning the event and four nations approaches to British History in general.

I’m also American and I want to discuss the differences in European vs. American academia, as well as immigration issues, living costs, the NHS, higher tuition fees, etc.  I’m starting to get the hang of this transition, so I’d like to offer my advice to any prospective crossovers but also hope others can guide me as well!

To conclude, in my spare time I love to travel, go to the theatre and cook.  I read about 10 food blogs daily so if you ever want recipes, feel free to ask! Cooking is a major passion of mine and allows me to totally forget about any stresses in my day. It’d be great to talk about more hobbies outside of academia, as I feel like many people (myself included) only discuss our PhD research outside of work.  I’m really looking forward to meeting you all!