• Scholar Spotlight - Roj Ranjbar, MA STUDENT, BIRKBECK, 2024 TO 2026

    October 2023

    October 25, 2023

    October 2023 Newsletter

    I will be studying MA in Contemporary History and Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London, 2024-2026.

    I have a keen interest in the historical roots of modern conflicts and the efforts that governments and communities make to overcome war-time sectarianism and post-conflict woes. I am drawn to studying how cross-community adhesion to peaceful coexistence influences peacebuilding opportunities towards post-war reconciliation and recovery.

    I would like to explore the impact of intercultural communication on countering historical narratives that fuel the politics of prejudice, a powerful barrier to coexistence. My research also aims to investigate theory and practices of policies that intend to assist the strengthening of cohesive communities committed to long-term conflict resolution.

    I am eager to discover more about the global climate crisis and the strategic challenges it poses to social peace and sustainable security when left unaddressed, especially in areas where desertification and droughts continue to hit farming communities at an alarming rate.

    I completed my BA in Journalism at the University of Leeds in 2012. My undergraduate dissertation assessed the impact of embedded journalism on conflict reporting. Since graduation, I have worked as a journalist and media analyst.

    In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family and socialising with friends. I like improvisational cooking, creating new dishes and listening to music of all types. I cycle on and off road and enjoy exploring rural greenery. I watch feature films at the cinema when time allows and continue to be fascinated by observational documentaries.

  • Scholar Spotlight - James Handy, PhD student, Birkbeck, 2023 to 2026

    October 2023

    October 25, 2023

    James

    October 2023 Newsletter

    James (he/him) is a PhD student in History at Birkbeck College, University of London.

    His research employs queer oral histories to examine the life and work of England’s queer teachers from the post-partial decriminalisation era of the 1970s to the repeal of Section 28 in 2003.

    In this way, the project historicises this particular intersection of the professional and the (putatively) personal and provides the first detailed and sustained account of the ways in which queer teachers' lives were shaped by factors within and outside of the school environment over this 30-year period.

    The research is motivated by his own experiences as a gay secondary school teacher in East London. Prior to his PhD, James was a school teacher, and has been a policy advisor within the Civil Service since 2018 where he worked on forestry and the UK Net Zero Strategy. In 2020, he attained an MA in European History at Birkbeck having been awarded an Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarship. His MA research explored mid-century print media representations of queer people in public service occupations.

    He passionately believes in the importance of queer space and is an advocate for queer-led social organising to improve LGBT+ health and educational provision and outcomes. He is a mentor with MOSAIC LGBT+ Young Persons' Trust and a member of KNOCKOUT LGBTQ+ boxing club.

  • Alumni Spotlight - Jahan Foster, PhD student, Birkbeck, 2018 to 2021

    July 2023 Newsletter

    July 18, 2023

    July 2023 Newsletter

    What did it feel like it to submit your viva?

    "Finishing my PhD and passing my viva was an incredible feeling. I spent almost five years developing my study, carrying out my research, doing interviews and writing the thesis, and the majority of this took place during COVID, with all the additional challenges that brought. So there was a real sense of relief to have finished, as well as just a sense of accomplishment to have passed."

    Tell us what you're doing now.

    "Right now, I'm working as a social researcher for a health and social care organisation in Greenwich. Our work is concerned with how people experience publicly funded health and social care services in the borough, with a focus on communities most likely to experience health inequalities. The work is really varied and I've completed projects on a wide range of issues, including young people's access to different contraception methods, as well as how migrant women experience maternity care. My experience doing the PhD was essential to getting this position and it's been really interesting to use my research skills in a non-academic setting."


  • Scholar Spotlight - Aleph Ross, MA student, Birkbeck, 2021 to 2023

    July 2023 Newsletter

    July 18, 2023

    Aleph newsletter part of website

    July 2023 Newsletter

    My current research project looks at the work of the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women (JAPGW) in the campaign against ‘white slavery’. A broad term used to describe sex trafficking, prostitution and sometimes other illicit sexual practices, white slavery became heavily associated with Jewish immigrants at the turn of the century. In the late 1880s, the JAPGW founded a series of residential homes intended to ‘rescue’ Jewish girls from the traffic.

    While historians have often presented the leaders of the JAPGW as either feminist liberators or classist assimilationists, my research complicates these narratives by focusing on the day-to-day realities of institutionalization. Reading the JAPGW’s own minute books and records ‘against the grain’, I attempt to unearth the voices of ‘inmates’, probing at instances of disobedience and displays of affection in order to build a fuller picture of their lives.

    I hope to consider rescued girls as agents in making meaning out of the work done by the JAPGW, focusing on the dynamics of class and power in interactions between reformer reformed. I am also interested in the role that anti-white slavery campaigning played in constructing and producing new identities for British Jewish women, and its significance in early movements for Progressive Judaism.

  • Scholar Spotlight - Rebecca Shorunke, MA student, Birkbeck, 2021 to 2023

    July 2023 Newsletter

    July 18, 2023

    Rebecca

    July 2023 Newsletter

    There seems to be a gap in the research when it comes to examining the experiences of black women police officers in the U.K with academic research, reviews and inquiries into police conduct, treating racist and sexist discrimination as two separate and distinct issues.

    I am keen to focus my dissertation on exploring the experiences of black women police officers in the Met police force, by interviewing current and former officers, and examining reviews and inquiries into police conduct e.g. Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the Casey Review.

    I want to understand how racist, sexist, classist, and potentially other discriminations, converge and diverge to oppress black women, as well as illuminate moments where these intersectional discriminations may have been manipulated to work in black women’s benefit. I’m interested to understand the coping mechanisms and survival strategies black women have adopted in response to their treatment in the Met, and whether they were able to achieve any structural change.

    Though I will be approaching this work using an intersectional framework, I will also be critiquing intersectionality’s capacity and limitations in capturing the full breadth of black women police officers’ experience in the Met.

    I have chosen to focus on the Met specifically because I am London based so can more easily access ex or current Met officers, I also grew up in London and therefore in and around the Met, and there has been an increased level of scrutiny directed at the Met in the wake of Wayne Couzens murder of Sarah Everard; serial rapist David Carrick; the Casey Review into police conduct and the historical Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, all of which resonate with the themes of my research.