Interdisciplinary (Thursday) Thoughts
Before coming to UofG to pursue a PhD, I was a university lecturer in the US for many years, and part of my job was helping both students write up their thesis. I was housed in an Arts and Humanities department, so you can imagine how many dissertations I read that referenced Foucault. There are many benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary research, and I tried my best to kids students through their research.
But over those years, I also saw an increase in connections to feminism, gender, and sexuality that become more complex and more integrated into disciplinary studies and the writings of my students, and I am glad to see this ten-fold on the postgraduate level, both in individual PGRs and interdisciplinary research collaborations. Gone are the days when your research is bound to a single discipline, or a single type of research. In my own process, I have delved into research questions that required me to engage with psychology, psychoanalysis, sociology, auto-ethnography, narratology, graphic comics, queer theory, feminism and gender studies, and the medical humanities. And I don’t imagine I am alone in this.
As I read and re-read, write and re-write my own thesis and those of others (we have a rota of love) I am constantly astonished to see how interdisciplinary these are. A PGR in anthropology wants to consider the intersections of gender identity, ethnography, and the medical humanities in the 2014 Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. A psychiatrist friend is working on a PhD in history is currently engrossed in the impact of linguistics and global ideas about national identities, and particularly how gender played a role in the authoring of those stories. Another PGR - a scientist working in a genetics lab - delves deeply into queer theory and considers how the prejudices we hold can be combated with scientific inquiries into how bodies are constructed (and reconstructed).
If you get outside of your own discipline, often you’ll meet new PGRs and amazing connections can happen, in your research, but in your life too! Here a great blog on interdisciplinary thinking and planning. Looking for conferences that converge interesting ideas is a great place to start. One of the BEST tools to find these is the Research Professional Database, on which will find all sorts of options (Warning: this site can be fun and addictive!) You only have access to this as a UofG student. Looking for something more intimate? Get to know a variety of PGRs by attending UofG PGR Researcher Development workshops and events, and if you’re looking for something really informal, try your hand in the PGR garden or our Tuesday PGR lunchtime walks!
If you are looking to make interesting connections specifically with feminism, gender, and sexuality there are loads of resources, lectures, and organizations that can help. Getting information from the Gender Studies Network at the University of Glasgow is a a good place to start. The Postgraduate Gender Network of Scotland has a weekly blog and monthly newsletter that lists all sorts of gender studies events and conferences, like the Terrors of Injustice: Gender Violence and Ethics of Shame conference, hosted by Utrecht University (The Netherlands) in October. Feeling inspired already? You could start investigating resources and connections to events going on TODAY with International Women’s Day! #iwd2018.
No matter what your PhD pursuits, there may be an interdisciplinary route to travel! Think big!