MA student in Culture, Diaspora, Ethnicity, Birkbeck, 2022 - 2024
Dan Levy is an MA student in Culture, Diaspora, Ethnicity at Birkbeck College, University of London. He began his studies in October 2022 and is interested in ways of communicating shared histories of marginisalisation between minority communities, and how doing so can form the basis for greater solidarity.
He is interested in asking what factors shape our understanding of ‘solidarity’ and whether there are any limitations to working across difference. He is then motivated by the question of if/how they can be overcome.
He is also particularly curious about the East End’s radical Jewish history in the late 19th/early 20th Century, as well as the resurgence of the Jewish Labour Bund in the popular imagination.
Dan’s completed his BA in Philosophy at UCL in 2019. Since graduating, he has worked in film programming, literary publishing, and as a freelance researcher for charities and social enterprises.
He also serves on the advisory board for JW3’s youth engagement programme, Young JW3.
MA Student in Culture, Diaspora, Ethnicity, Birkbeck, 2022 to 2024
Maisha Riyah is an MA student in Culture, Diaspora, Ethnicity at Birkbeck University of London. Her research will examine racialised and marginalised communities in the UK and their relation to colonialism and imperialism. Topics such as race and British imperialism are often brushed over rather quickly, which dismisses their significance in understanding the society and world that we live in today. She is keen to contribute to the work of Bonnart Trust and to continue tackling the intolerance and prejudice that different groups continuously experience.
Maisha completed her BA in Politics and International Relations (IR) from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2021, specialising in global politics and decolonising the curriculum in IR. Her undergraduate dissertation focused on decolonising the curriculum and how it contributes to a global International Relations. The research primarily used qualitative data to analyse both students and academics views on both campaigns. One of the main themes she discusses in this dissertation is about the notion of the colonisation of knowledge, which tends to be dominated by the West, and how this contributes to the absence of non-Western voices in academia, especially in a subject like International Relations.
Her paper aimed to highlight the voices of both students and academics (from Politics and IR departments) on their thoughts on decolonising the curricula and whether we need to rethink about adapting IR into becoming more global. Following the completion of her BA, she spent two years working for Royal Holloway and a year working in a Sixth form/secondary school teaching Politics and History.
Currently, she works full time as a Peer Support Co-ordinator under the Haringey Wellbeing Network service for the mental health charity Mind in Haringey, managing and leading the development and delivery of two models of peer support services. Her roles include recruitment, training, managing, supervising, and supporting volunteers to deliver a 1-2-1 coaching service and peer support group hubs (https://www.mindinharingey.org.uk/our-services/haringey-wellbeing-network/peer-support-services/). The aim of this charity is to seek influence and improve mental health services in Haringey, raising awareness and challenging stigma and discrimination including racialised communities to receive support and access to mental health and educate about the importance of mental health issues.
Maisha would like to increase awareness about the colonial history and deep-rooted structural racism that has strongly affected marginalised communities with their mental health and the prevalence of generational trauma that has been passed down to the younger generations.
In her spare time, Maisha enjoys outdoor activities, walking and café hopping and trying out different countries’ cuisines and loves reading and films.
PhD student in Psychosocial Studies. Birkbeck, 2021 to 2024
Annie Olaloku-Teriba is starting a PhD in Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research is driven by two very simple questions: How is ‘race’ made by us today? And how, in turn, does ‘race’ make us? She is particularly interested in constructing a conceptual history of ‘blackness’, tracing how our thinking about this category has changed in the last sixty years and the different social worlds that various approaches to ‘blackness’ imply. She investigates how the languages of race available to us are shaped by the specific material conditions of our society, and then in turn, how these languages of race shape not just how we think about race – but what possibilities there are to liberate ourselves from it. She is passionate about finding ways to make liberatory thought accessible to all.
Annie received her BA in History and Politics from the University of Oxford in 2016, focusing in particular on histories and legacies of Empire in Africa and its diasporas. In the time since, she has been an independent researcher offering an historical approach to contemporary questions in ‘race’ and racialisation. She has written and spoken extensively, with her analysis appearing in Historical Materialism Journal, Aljazeera English, Channel 4, BBC Radio 1Xtra, and Freize Magazine among others. In 2020, she founded Black as in Revolution, an event series and Youtube channel centring the contemporary relevance of Black radical thought.
Annie is part of the Salvage Journal Editorial Collective, and the host of the Salvage Live series, in collaboration with Haymarket books. She also freelances, curating exhibitions and workshops which bring histories of solidarity to life for young people.
Rebecca (or Bex) Shorunke
MA student in Culture, Diaspora and Ethnicity Birkbeck, 2021 to 2023
Rebecca (Bex) Shorunke is an MA student in Culture, Diaspora and Ethnicity at Birkbeck College, University of London. She began her studies in October 2021 and is interested in understanding the histories and discourses that have contributed to the construction of identity categories such as ‘race’ and ‘gender’ and their psychosocial legacies and capacity to be reframed or reinvented.
She is also interested in how we can use intersectional frameworks to better understand how marginalised communities are treated by the police, welfare agencies and the criminal justice system, whilst acknowledging the capacity for communities to support themselves and each other, outside of the state.
Bex completed her BA in English Literature at the University of Manchester in 2016. Her dissertation focused on the representation of African American women in poetry and prose in the seventies and eighties, and their use of the arts as an act of resistance to racist and sexist attitudes of the time. Following graduation, she worked at arts publishers and continued to build her portfolio in freelance journalism.
She writes about intersectionality, social welfare, homelessness, and culture and has written about issues such as FGM, portrayals of blackness in the arts and the deportation of asylum seekers for Inside Housing, Stylist, Gal-dem, Dazed, Time Out, Stonewall and more.
Up until November 2021 Bex was working at the LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity Akt (formerly the Albert Kennedy Trust) to raise public awareness into LGBTQ+ youth homelessness and its wrap-around themes. These include racism, gender-based violence, mental health, substance misuse, sex work and trauma. She now manages the media, press and PR at Mermaids, a charity supporting trans and non-binary children, young people and their families. Through well-placed media, political campaigns and advocacy work she is platforming the experiences of trans young people and challenging the anti-trans rhetoric that is so pervasive in the government and wider society. In her spare time, Bex enjoys reading, documentaries, theatre and Crossfit.
MA student in Contemporary History and Politics, Birkbeck, 2021 to 2023.
Aleph Ross is an MA student in Contemporary History and Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London, 2021-2023. She currently works part time for a charity supporting unpaid carers and has an interest in the history of social reproduction and the hidden or neglected work of care, domestic and sexual labour. She is also curious about the absorption of this work into the welfare state, and the role of feminist groups, trade unions and charities in shaping how gendered labor is performed and paid for.
Meanwhile, she has developed a growing curiosity in Jewish migration to London in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is eager to explore the points of overlap between this period of history and the feminist and gender histories with which she is most familiar (e.g. the role of friendly societies in funding and organising care-work in the East End). One day a week, she also works as a cheesemonger in an outdoor market and is involved in organising with the community union ACORN.
PhD Student in Slavonic and East European Studies UCL, 2020 to 2023
(The Bonnart Trust UCL Endowed Fund)
David’s ethnographic research investigates how practices of security affect and are affected by the question of where we and others belong. The relation seems rather worrying: Various endeavours supposedly aimed at enhancing our security, such as anti-terrorist measures, have notoriously produced categories of undesired people and at times with lethal consequences. But cannot security be done differently? We should not forget that security is a cultural phenomenon; it is not the same thing across (and even within) different cultural and historical contexts, and we can learn from those other “possibilities of being”. Focusing on the experience of queer people in Georgia as creative agents of security (rather than mere passive victims of hate crimes), David is particularly interested in whether non-dominant understandings and practices of security can escape the violent and exclusivist logic the concept is infamous for.
That is, if the prevalent conception of security is the problem, perhaps there are ways to queer it. This way, he simultaneously contributes towards filling the gap in research on queerness in Georgia (and Eastern Europe in general) and furthers our understanding of queer (in)security beyond victimology.
Before joining UCL SSEES, David received an MSc in Social Sciences (Research) from the University of Amsterdam and an Mgr in Security & Strategic Studies from Masaryk University.
PhD student in History. Birkbeck, 2020 to 2023
Jennifer is a PhD student in History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research focuses on contemporary graffiti in sites of the Holocaust. She is interested in individual acts of resistance against the Nazi regime, how prisoners and guards interacted with the built environment around them, and unconventional forms of communication. She will document and catalogue the graffiti herself, creating a template that can be used at other sites of imprisonment and genocide.
Jennifer received an MA in Modern History and Politics from Birkbeck College as the Eric Hobsbawm scholar for the 2019–2020 class. Her dissertation focused on the mail system in Auschwitz, comparing the official rules against the lived experiences of prisoners. She also has an MPhil in Linguistics from Trinity College Dublin, writing a dissertation entitled “Critical Discourse Analysis & Graffiti: A Case Study of Prisoner Number Graffiti in Auschwitz I”. Her BA is in Literature and Languages from Loyola University Chicago.
Her wider research interests include modern graffiti, comparative genocide research, philately, Jewish history, Cuban history, and resistance movements. Jennifer speaks four languages – Polish, French, Spanish, and English – and is learning two more – Yiddish and German.
MSc in International Development Birkbeck, 2020 to 2022
I am currently studying for a MSc in International Development, following the completion of a BA in Global Politics and International Relations at Birkbeck University in 2020. I began my studies later in life due to a progressive illness I have suffered since birth, which was partially resolved following a life-changing operation I received at the age of twenty. Nevertheless, the time I spent unwell gave me plenty of opportunities for independent study, which was largely focused on the politics, history and culture of the Middle East; with my interest originally spurred by the Arab Spring in 2010 and 2011.
I decided to study at Birkbeck as the evening courses it offers enabled me to begin a career relevant to my interests. I started my career working in the NGO sector, in strategic communications as a politics and conflict analyst, during which the focus of my work was to counter the messaging of extremist groups operating out of Syria and Iraq.
I have also participated in a counter-extremism initiative with young people from religious and community groups across London with training from the Mayor of London’s office. I presently work in public affairs for the property sector, which involves communicating with local civic and community groups, and lobbying local politicians and MPs on behalf of a wide range of clients.
MA student in Culture, Diaspora and Ethnicity Birkbeck, 2020 to 2022
Shereen Hunte is an MA student in Culture, Diaspora and Ethnicity at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research will examine the relationship between the Black British Community and the British Jewry. She strongly believes that a deeper insight into these two minorities communities in the UK can spark a powerful mutual understanding, growth and activism and consequently, disrupt the root of racial, cultural and religious intolerance. Thus far, she has completed an assignment on the relationship between the Shoah and other histories of coloniality and genocide. Currently, in her second term, she is undertaking a module on Modern Europe and Its Others: Jew, Muslim, Blacks.
Shereen completed her BA in Italian and Classics from University of Warwick in 2016, specialising in the self-representation of minority communities in both the modern and ancient landscapes of Italy. During her study at the University of Warwick, she spent a year abroad studying at the University of Bologna, Italy. In 2016, she founded a community group for black women which she continues to lead to this day. Following the completion of her BA, she has spent the last four years in the Museum and Heritage Sector. Currently, she works at the Jewish Museum London and is responsible for the museum’s Black History Programme, community-based exhibitions and delivering school workshops on Judaism, Jewish History and the Holocaust. She also freelances for The Black Curriculum, delivering workshops and supporting their museum partnership programme.
In her spare time, Shereen enjoys painting and writes a blog, based on books and experiences that continue to shape her life.
She also freelances for The Black Curriculum, delivering workshops and supporting their museum partnership programme.
PhD candidate in Geography, Birkbeck , 2018 to 2021
Jahan is a PhD student in Geography, Environment and Development Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research examines the social reproduction strategies of Latin American transnational families living in London, with a view to understanding how the work of social reproduction is organised around inequalities of class, race, gender and migration status. The research is situated within a wider context of austerity politics in the U.K. and the impact these policies have had on migrant families and migrant children in terms of how they access essential services and resources for social reproduction.
Jahan’s research engages with feminist geographies and adopts a feminist political economy approach in order to develop perspectives on transnational childhoods and social reproduction. Her broad research interests are transnationalism, gender studies, and geographies of children, with a focus on the intersections of gender, race and class. As part of her research, Jahan has been volunteering with a Latin American community organisation in London for over two years where she has supported families to access education and schooling.
Jahan completed her BA in Politics and French from University of Bristol in 2013, during which she spent a year living in Paris studying Political Science at the Pantheon Sorbonne University. She received her MSc in Children, Youth and International Development from Birkbeck College in 2017 and alongside her PhD, has sought out work as an independent researcher in community engagement and the charity sector.
In her spare time, Jahan enjoys playing netball and tennis, travelling and spending time with friends and family.
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