Birkbeck 3 Minute Thesis Competition 2022

The BGRS is pleased to announce the 2022 Birkbeck 3 Minute Thesis Competition, which will take place on Thursday 16 June from 6pm.
You are invited to mark this date in your diaries!

Birkbeck 3MT: Thursday 16 June 2022

Join a selection of Birkbeck PhD students as they compete to communicate their compelling thesis topics in just three minutes. This event has provided some outstanding opportunities to share and celebrate the interests and successes of PhD researchers from across the College and we will invite all current Birkbeck PhD students to take part. The winner of the Birkbeck competition will be chosen by an expert panel of judges who will award:

  • £500 to the overall winner
  • £250 to the runner up
  • The audience will also have their say by picking a people’s choice winner who’ll win a special prize.

How to compete

You can read more about what it was like to take part in the 2018 and 2019 3MT competitions in the following BGRS blog posts: 

All potential competitors for the Birkbeck Three Minute Thesis Competition will be invited to attend training sessions which will prepare them and will provide useful skills beyond the competition.

This is an international event and the Birkbeck winner will have the opportunity to continue on to the UK semi-finals later in the year.

Registration

Registration will open in 2022 and will be announced on the BGRS blog and via a BGRS email to all Birkbeck research students.

Representing hidden histories on stage and screen: Two Workshops with The CATALINA Film Team

21 & 28 September, 18.00 – 20.00

Untold Arts, in collaboration with the Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies (CILAVS), at the School of Arts at Birkbeck, University of London, would like to invite you to two workshops on interpreting diverse hidden histories for the stage and screen.

Untold Arts, founded by Actor/Producer Nadia Nadif and Historian/Writer Lauren Johnston, brings true unknown stories to life, championing global majority and female characters through the creative arts, educational resources and outreach workshops.

Workshop 1

Tuesday, 21 September 2021, 6pm-8pm, online.

The first workshop aims to provide you with insights into the process of how the Untold Arts team translates hidden histories into theatre and film and introduce you to our latest project, about an Arab woman privy to some of the Tudor royals’ greatest secrets. This will include talks and discussions with the creative team (from the UK & USA) including:

6.00pm: Introduction – Professor Luciana Martins            

6.05pm: The Catalina Project – Nadia Nadif (Actress and Producer)

6.35pm: The World of Catalina – Professor Carmen Fracchia

6.55pm: How the history has informed our process as film makers – Fawaz Al-Matrouk (Director), Leah Curtis (Music Composer)

7.45pm: Preparing Workshop 2 – Nadia Nadif    

Workshop 2

Tuesday, 28 September 2021, 6pm-8pm, venue tba  

The second workshop will involve interactive activities from guest facilitator Frances Marshall from HistoryRiot who aims to connect people with the UK’s past, to inspire audiences to feel a fresh sense of identity with the place in which they live and the historical sites they visit. These activities will allow you to explore your own diverse histories and how to present them through the creative arts.

Postgraduate students are especially welcome

Carmen Fracchia 
Professor of Hispanic Art History
Co-Director of the Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies-CILAVS
School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London

Useful Knowledge: Conference

PhD researchers at Birkbeck working on the history of the college are organising a major conference to mark the institution’s 200th anniversary.

Useful Knowledge, to be held at Birkbeck in February 2022 (ahead of the College’s bicentenary in 2023), will feature talks by leading historians and critics including Sir Richard Evans, Sally Alexander, Jerry White and Marai Larasi.

The conference, being organised by Professor Joanna Bourke’s ‘Birkbeck Knowledge‘ research group, is set to focus on the long history of the college, but also on the past, present and future of part-time and mature higher education more broadly.

Further information will be made available shortly and information about the Call for Papers is available below.

Call for papers

Birkbeck Knowledge’s PhD researchers Jonny Matfin and Ciarán O’Donohue have also launched a Call for Papers (CfP), aimed at all academics with an interest in the history of part-time and mature higher education.

“We’re aiming to include as wide a range of academics as possible, to discuss what we believe is a vitally important area of university history.”

Jonny and Ciarán

Deadline for the Call for Papers: 5pm, Thursday 30 September

The Essay Film Festival

25 March to 3 April 2021

The Essay Film Festival returns 25 March to 3 April for its 2021 edition, which this year will be held entirely online. The Essay Film Festival is supported by AHRC funded CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership.

How will the festival work online?

All the films will be free and open to anyone in the UK. To watch the films, visit our online screening room, where you will be able to view all the films at a time that suits you. The screening room does not require any sign-ups or downloads. While most of this material will be made available for the entire festival window (25 March to 3 April), one or two items will be up for a more limited period, so you should check the window of availability for each film. 

What about live events?

Our programme of live events – open to audiences globally – includes artists’ and curators’ talks, conversations with filmmakers and discussions with critics and researchers. These will take place online, via a platform called Collaborate, which is very simple to use. Book your place on our website (http://www.essayfilmfestival.com), and we will send you a link to join us on the day: again, you do not need to create an account or download any software.

What is in the programme this year?

For us the essay film is a critical intervention in the world, combining a passion for investigating reality and for asking tough questions about society with an open, inventive and even playful approach to film language and forms of representation.

This year’s programme reflects that dynamic ambition for the essay film, with a wide range of contemporary and archival works from different parts of the world, accompanied by live talks and conversations featuring artists and researchers.

Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich will give a talk about her forthcoming project on Suzanne Césaire, alongside a selection of her short films exploring alternative voices and narratives from African-American history.

Cauleen Smith will be joining us to discuss a programme of her experimental works reflecting her longstanding interest in Afro-futurism and jazz, especially Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra.

Two programmes of short films by Kevin Jerome Everson focus on themes of labour and place, which the artist will further develop in an illustrated talk and conversation.

From the Asian Film Archive we share Monographs, a series of video essays responding to the uncertainties of the pandemic from ten contemporary Asian artists, some of whom will be speaking at the festival with critic and essayist Kevin B. Lee.

John Gianvito will be in conversation about his latest film, Her Socialist Smile, an historical essay about Helen Keller that foregrounds her radical politics and commitment to social justice.

Nuria Giménez’s My Mexican Bretzel uses found footage and literary invention to play with the conventions of film portraiture and highlight the invisibility of women’s histories – themes that the artist will discuss in a live conversation.

An extended programme around the work of Jenny Brady features three of her own films and three films curated by the artist, alongside a talk about her current research into musical performance and the sonic practice of Alvin Lucier.

Our archival section showcases films by Med Hondo and Sidney Sokhona, both representing critically the lives of African workers in France in the 1970s; writer Assia Djebar’s filmic reinterpretation of colonial travelogues and newsreels shot in Algeria; and the collaborative films of Yugantar, India’s first feminist film collective.

This year’s programme closes with a study day devoted to Brazilian filmmaker Eduardo Coutinho, specifically his films Man Marked for Death, Last Conversations and the unfinished A Day in Life.

Come and join us!

On behalf of the Essay Film Festival: Matthew Barrington, Lauren Collee, Kieron Corless, Catherine Grant, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Janet McCabe, Raquel Morais, Laura Mulvey, Michael Temple

Full programme and practical information: http://www.essayfilmfestival.com

The Essay Film Festival is supported by CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership

Cumberland Lodge Scholars 2021-23

Every year, the Cumberland Lodge Scholarships gives 10 doctoral students the opportunity to spend two years involved in our work; bringing people together, from different backgrounds, ages and perspectives, to address the causes and effects of social division and work towards more open and inclusive societies.

Scholars have the chance to network with senior figures in public life and to participate in, or help to lead discussions with people of all ages, backgrounds and perspectives that ultimately inform recommendations for practical action and policy change. Scholars also have opportunities to take part in Programme topics outside their own academic disciplines. In doing so, they will gain experience in: working collaboratively; engaging in cross-disciplinary discussion; public engagement and facilitation at events; networking; and writing for a range of different audiences.

The Scholarships fit around the demands of doctoral research. The Scholarships are open to students of any age who are enrolled on a doctoral programme within the UK.

There is no contribution towards tuition or maintenance costs. Scholars are, however, provided with meals, accommodation and standard economy return travel to Lodge events, amongst priority attendance at other digital events. A Personal Development Grant of up to £300 is also accessible.

Applicants must:

  • Have at least two years left to complete their PhD
  • Be studying at a UK university
  • Provide a CV and covering letter demonstrating a commitment to working for ‘the betterment of society’ through their academic research and/or other activities.

All types of doctoral candidates are eligible to apply, including full-time, part-time and those on non-traditional pathways and professional doctorate programmes. Since 2014, a total of 57 students have enjoyed, and are currently enjoying, the benefits of this programme.

Potential Scholars are welcome to apply between 1 March 2021 – 9 April 2021. For more information about Cumberland Lodge and the Scholarship scheme, please visit their website.

Starting a PhD Journey

A Blog post by Nerges Azizi (PhD Law)

Diversity100 / ESRC UBEL studentship award holder

My name is Nerges Azizi and I recently started the MPhil in Law at Birkbeck, University of London. My research addresses ways of resisting the European border regime, with a particular focus on the role of strategic litigation. I chose this topic because of the experiences I have had working with refugees as a translator and interpreter. In the course of that work, the law again and again surfaced as an obstacle and an instrument of power designed to regulate their existence, behaviour and expectations. Despite the disciplinary and oppressive function of the law, the people who I was working with were forced to appeal to the law in order to receive protection. This provoked me to question whether there could be alternative uses of the law, ones less geared towards regulating and disciplining the lives of refugees, towards ones that hold states accountable. During my preliminary research, I came across strategic litigation, which describes the tactical use of legal tools to hold states accountable for their human rights obligations.

At present, I am sceptical about the prospects of this tool, however, I am looking forward to examine all the ambivalences and difficulties of engaging with the law. I am particularly interested in what the resort to legal means might be able to reveal about the ways in which the European border regime is constituted and contested. My geographical focus is the Mediterranean Sea, which presently has been transformed into a site of death and racial violence by European policy makers and border guards. I aim to place this sphere into a longer historical perspective, in which the sea was not partitioned into north and south, east and west – nor was it necessarily functioning as a border – rather, it might have worked as a space of encounter, connection or a bridge. At the same time, I will be attentive to the colonial, imperial and racial violence shaping the history of its human crossings. Tracing histories of the Mediterranean, as well as conceptually departing from the sea, hopefully allows me to imagine another function for it and opens the possibility of an alternative future. I am very excited to work on the project and look forward to the writing that will emerge from it.

When applying for the PhD, considering who my supervisors would be, and who else would be working at the department and at the school where I would be based, was of high importance to me. This is because I consider my environment to shape me intellectually; we learn from the people around us. A PhD is a long project and is potentially accompanied with some anxieties and self-doubt, therefore working with supervisors whose work I am familiar with and respect ensures that I can trust that my research will be guided in the right direction. Of course, having the financial stability of a scholarship is indispensable and crucial to be able to concentrate on researching and writing. This is particularly so for students of working class background and ethnic minorities. I would recommend everyone to apply to existing scholarship opportunities.

Diversity100 Studentships – applications open

Apply now for Autumn 2021 entry

Birkbeck is offering a number of fully funded Diversity100 PhD studentships which actively address under-representation at the highest level of research, and encourage Black and Minority Ethnic students to consider academic research in all disciplines. 

The call for Diversity100 PhD studentship applications is open until Monday 10 May. You can find further details about these studentship opportunities here including how to apply and about briefing sessions for prospective applicants where you can hear about the application process and what it is like to be a doctoral researcher at Birkbeck.

Debi Lewinson Roberts

In the video below we hear from Debi Lewinson Roberts who was awarded a Diversity100 PhD studentship and began her doctoral research in Autumn 2020. Debi speaks on the subject of bereavement, her family’s influence on her education and why she chose Birkbeck.

National Archives: Introduction to archival research days

You may be interested in the following announcement from the National Archives which includes information about online ‘Introduction to Archival Research’ sessions.


The National Archives holds one of the largest collections in the world, containing over 11 million historical government and public records. From Domesday Book to the Leveson Enquiry, our records offer students a myriad of untapped research opportunities across a wide range of time periods and disciplines.

With so many options, however, getting started in the archives can be a daunting prospect. Many students have questions which they are too afraid to ask. How will I know where to go? What do I need to bring with me? How do I find records for my research? How do I order documents? Do I need to use gloves? How can I be sure I’m not wasting my time?

This introduction day will explain how to get started with archival research, the importance of knowing the history and structure of a collection to navigate the records, and how to make the most of your time on site.

Our upcoming events

Our next ‘Introduction to Archival Research’ sessions will be held entirely online on the following dates:

Monday 1 February 2021: Find out more and book your place

Monday 8 February 2021: Find out more and book your place

Monday 15 February 2021: Find out more and book your place

Monday 22 February 2021: Find out more and book your place

These sessions are are aimed at third year undergraduate and postgraduate students. Registration this year will be at a reduced rate of £5. While this workshop will be entirely presented online, we hope that students will be able to join us back at Kew for our Skills and Methodology workshops, which will be held in June 2021.

If you have any questions, please email past@nationalarchives.gov.uk. 

Women & the Climate Crisis Symposium

Call for proposals

The Birkbeck Students’ Union Women’s Network, in partnership with the SU Environment Society, the Birkbeck Unison Environmental Representative and the Birkbeck UCU Environmental Officer, is organising a symposium to hear from women researchers on the climate crisis, to be held at Birkbeck in early 2021. 

Proposals for papers from researchers in any discipline are encouraged – we want to hear about the innovative and unique ways you can contribute to this discussion, especially those who are not traditionally given space in discussions about the environment but have meaningful contributions to make. 

Topics

To that end, scholars are invited to submit papers on any subject relating to the climate crisis, with a focus on proactive solutions.  

Topics may include but are not limited to:  

  • Feminism/gender & the climate crisis  
  • Intersectional environmentalism  
  • Politics & the climate crisis  
  • Race & the climate crisis  
  • Climate change & the law  
  • Media/journalism & the climate crisis  
  • LGBTQIA+ issues & the climate crisis  
  • Technological approaches to the climate crisis  
  • Ethical investments  
  • Neoliberalism & the climate crisis 
  • Environmental activism 

Length: Individual paper abstracts should be no longer than 500 words. Papers which require the distribution of pre-prepared materials, such as drafts, videos, podcasts, posters, etc, will also be accepted.  

Deadline

Proposals should be sent to naomi.smith2@bbk.ac.uk, no later than 31 January 2021

LGBT History Month and International Women’s Day

For LGBT+ History Month in February and International Women’s Day in March, the Access and Engagement Department is looking for two Birkbeck PhD candidates or early career researchers to deliver an accessible public lecture or workshop for an audience with little to no experience of Higher Education. If you are interested in doing this please get in contact by 12 February.

Our public lecture series, Get Started: Big Ideas, was previously delivered in Stratford Library, in collaboration with Newham Council. Through the pandemic we have been delivering the talks on Zoom and broadcasting using YouTube live.

The themes this year are ‘Body, Mind, Spirit’ (for LGBT History Month) and ‘Gender Equality in Eudcation’ (for International Women’s Day), so we will be looking for pitches that take these themes into account.

WHO? 
We’re looking for Birkbeck academics, particularly PhD students and early career researchers, whose research touches on topics relevant to LGBT+ History Month or International Women’s Day.

WHAT? 
Our audience consists of people with no experience of Higher Education, or those who have had a long break since their last HE experience. With that in mind, we will work closely with the academic to ensure the lecture is accessible to these audiences. More information on our department’s work.

We are open to pitches of lectures (roughly 20 minutes in length), workshops, virtual walks, or other formats that you feel would be engaging. This would usually be followed by a Q&A.

PAYMENT 
We are able to pay PhD candidates or academics who are not on full-time contracts. The pay is at spine point 31 (£21.15 per hour) and we would usually allow for 2 hours’ prep time and 1 hour delivery. In this case we will also be adding 1 hour to allow for familiarising yourself with any software needed. Please do get in touch if you have a proposal which would exceed the allotted time.

If you have any questions, please drop us a line at getstarted@bbk.ac.uk