• Audio recording of The Bonnart Trust's May 2024 Seminar

    June 25, 2024

  • Alumni Spotlight: Killian O' Dochartaigh

    March 2024

    March 8, 2024

    March 2024 Newsletter

    Killian O’ Dochartaigh is an architect with an interest in post-conflict/disaster built environments. He was awarded a Bonnart Trust scholarship in 2014, and undertook a PhD in Architecture in UCL from 2014 until 2017. He has recently passed his viva. He's currently a full time lecturer at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh.

    What was your thesis about?
    "My PhD by Design thesis examined how Rwanda, in emerging from the effects of the 1994 Genocide, under the trajectory of the current government VISION for the built environment excludes many low income communities due to their ethnicity. I first examined how this new Vision for the built environment severed human settlement patterns from the landscape, and increased struggles for land and livelihoods, particularly for hunter-gatherer and potter indigenous communities. By working in collaboration with these communities, we collectively speculated upon alternative, shared multi-species and therefore more inclusive and tolerant design futures for Rwanda."

    How did it feel like to pass your viva?

    "Finishing my PhD and passing my viva was a wonderful feeling. Firstly, I've been working on this research for a number of years across multiple countries, had fathered two young girls and taken on a new job, so it was a huge relief to have it completed! Secondly, it was such an incredible feeling to have my research endorsed by others in the field. I'd been looking at this for so long in isolation that I was continuously doubting myself and the research itself. The viva was a really engaging and enjoyable experience."

    What are you currently working on?

    "Right now, I'm a full time lecturer at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh. I teach and coordinate the one year MSc and Architecture and Urban Design program in which my students are working within my hometown of Derry, in Northern Ireland, and they're trying to understand how the long duree of conflict has contributed to the uneven spatial development of the city and how we might resuscitate the University of Derry vision by the local peace activist and politician John Hume as a means to construct socially and ecologically just more futures in the face of Brexit and a new calls for a hard border."

  • Scholar Spolight: Dan Levy, MA Student, Birkbeck, 2022 to 2024

    March 2024

    March 8, 2024

    Dan Levy

    March 2024 Newsletter

    In my first year of study on the Culture, Ethnicity, Diaspora MA, I have been struck by two main areas of interest: Stuart Hall’s discursive approach to identification and fin-de-siècle constructions of Jewish masculinity - including how these constructions dovetailed with the (re)invention of a masculine body politic in the nationalist imaginary of the time across various European contexts.

    Over the course of this summer, I have been thinking about ways in which these areas might align and how I might explore that through a dissertation.

    It is how I have become drawn to the work of scholars such as Daniel Boyarin and, more recently, artists such as Gregg Bordowitz, whose book/performance Some Styles of Masculinity beautifully touches on these themes.

    I’m interested in examining which masculine Jewish ideal (if any) ‘won out’ during the fin-de-siècle and the legacy which that may have had on identification as it is constructed by and between varying Jewish groups today.

    I’m then interested in situating that within the broader context of anti-antisemitism’s place within the wider anti-racism movement, and whether it might provide a partial explanation for the uncoupling that has arguably taken place between the two.

  • Scholar Spotlight: Oliver Anness, Msc Student, Birbeck, 2023 to 2026

    March 2024

    March 8, 2024


    March 2024 Newsletter

    Olivia is a MSc student in Gender and Sexuality at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her interests lie in the intersection of gender theory, policy and law, with a particular focus on women in detention settings.

    Olivia is interested in feminist legal practice and her MSc research will focus on the experiences of women in immigration removal centres, and their access - or lack thereof - to complaint mechanisms and processes, together with the social and cultural obstacles associated with ‘complaining women’.

  • Alumni Spotlight - Fatima Kola, Phd Student, UCL, 2006 - 2011

    October 2023

    October 25, 2023

    October 2023 Newsletter

    Can you tell us what your PhD was about?

    "Hi! My name is Fatima Kola and I was a Bonnart-Braunthal scholar at University College, London in the faculty of laws. I finished my PhD in 2011, and my PhD was on the international law of torture. I looked at how nation-states respond to terrorist threats, and how they operate interrogation of suspected terrorists around those threats. I looked at Israel and the occupied territories, Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States after 9/11. And my PhD asked, first of all, whether torture could be justified. and then secondly, if it couldn't, which I found that it couldn't, how the international law on torture might be adjusted or changed so that nation-states could not use interrogation that arguably rises to the level of torture as a tactic in encountering terrorism."

    Tell us what you're doing now.

    "After I finished my PhD, I did a pupillage at Garden Court Chambers in London, where I primarily did criminal defense work, but I also did some amount of employee rights, immigration, and some international human rights law, including submitting a brief to the Colombian Supreme Court, an amicus brief on torture with other members of Garden Court. After a few years of practicing as a barrister, I decided to undertake a career change, and I applied to MFA programs in the US for creative writing. I ended up doing an MFA* in fiction at the University of Texas at Austin, and after that time wrote short stories, worked at the O'Henry Prize, which is an American short story prize, and then did a Stegner Fellowship in fiction at Stanford University. At the moment, I'm a writer in residence at the Department of Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where I will be for the year. And surprisingly, I feel as though my doctoral work and my fiction writing have come full circle because for this year, I am teaching a class on medicine and literature, and as part of that class, we've been looking at fiction about detainees. We've been reading critical theory about pain and torture. And it feels at this point in time that my creative work and my doctoral work have managed to combine, which I'm really happy about."

    *MFA: Master of Fine Art