PhDs that move beyond the rules of academia
…with Seren Thomas, Meghan Grant & Ebru Calin
Join Seren, Ebru and Meghan as they discuss their experiences of doing their PhDs, as people who are part of groups who often aren’t seen, heard and celebrated in academia. With monthly guests, they encourage visibility, and acceptance of the intersectional layers of our identities within academic research and the PhD process.
By amplifying the voices of minorities that have been rendered silent, “Bending Boundaries” sheds light on the heteronormative, gendered and racialized notions of membership, belonging and recognition in universities which are deeply entrenched in the operation of admission processes, scholarships, graduate departments, and professional organizations.
“Bending Boundaries” aims to break the silence around the history of structural racism, ableism and heteronormativity upon which universities are built globally as well as compensate for a lack of education on equality, diversity, and inclusion in academia. Moving beyond normative assumptions around the concept of “Academic Citizenship” – meaning the socially constructed boundaries of what is assumed to be the ‘ideal’ student affecting who gets admitted, who and what gets funded, who and what gets published where, Seren, Meghan, and Ebru create a space for activism, and self-discovery through conversations that encourage equity and more diverse representation in doctoral education.
Meet The Hosts…
Ebru Calin is a multilingual doctoral researcher at the University of Liverpool, activist, and a first-generation Muslim immigrant graduate. The empirical aim of Ebru’s study is to move beyond the intersecting axes of gender and race by illuminating experiences of what it is to be a homosexual or heterosexual person of faith and to capture how the interstices of religion and socially constructed notions of ‘good motherhood’ and ‘professionalism’ influence these individuals’ employment experiences over time. Thus, Ebru’s proposed study addresses a pressing need for research that is both interdisciplinary and intersectional in its approach.
Growing up as an ethnic and religious minority in Germany, Ebru developed a passion for writing about the immigrant experience, race, sexuality, and issues of social justice from an early age. Her recent TEDx talk “Too brown, too Queer and too Muslim? Or rather too white, and not Muslim or Queer enough?” (2021) At Royal Central School London features Ebru’s experience of what it means to live in the ‘in-between,’ a third space marked by the intersectional layers of Queer Muslim immigrants’ identities.
Ebru is happiest in a messy bun, wearing oversized sweats and fluffy slippers with a cup of coffee at home surrounded by her partner and her Labrador where you can most likely find her reading high fantasy shifter romance books, writing poetry and dancing to the rhythm of her heart.
Meghan is a Londoner living in Liverpool who hates gentrification and loves drag queens. She graduated in sociology from the University of Leicester in 2013 and got a master’s in social and public policy from the University of Leeds in 2016. After taking a break from studying to work as a Researcher (and earn money) back in London, she has moved back up North to do her PhD.
Meghan is pursuing a PhD at the University of Liverpool, in Human Geography. Her PhD title is Fatness and the Urban Environment: A study of fat experiences through the lenses of racism, Class and Health. She aims to understand the way fatphobia, racism, and classism intersect with the way that cities function in a UK context.
Bending Boundaries is Meghan’s second podcast, she previously hosted a podcast called Brown About Town which was listed on BuzzFeed’s 27 Podcasts to listen to in 2018. She’s excited to do a Podcast which highlights the importance of diversifying academia while learning about the broad range of research that can be done during a PhD.
Fun Fact: In 2020, before the world shut down, Meghan competed on and won Pointless, a BBC game show which tests niche knowledge.
Seren is doing a Social Anthropology PhD at Manchester University. Their research is about experiences of Welsh language revival in Cardiff. Seren explores how the Welsh Government’s increase in Welsh language resources, policy and education is impacting Cardiff residents’ relationships with Welsh and what it means to belong in the city – be they fluent speakers, learners, or not able to speak Welsh at all. They consider the ways in which policy fails to make Welsh language accessible to marginalised people, and investigate how working class people, people of colour, queer and trans people and disabled people are using Welsh in their communities despite being underrepresented within national conversations about language revival.
Seren also makes art under the name Flatboy, picturing trans and gender non-conforming people in their most vulnerable, joyful and courageous moments. They have worked with organisations including Tate, UNIQLO, the NHS and Trans Pride Brighton. While art is often seen as a luxury, Seren believes that everyone should have access to art that represents their experiences, and they offer low-cost and pay-it-forward schemes for trans and non-binary people. They also co-run TransGiving, a project sending hundreds of free care packages to trans and non-binary people during winter.