Scholars tell their stories

Four Gates Cambridge Scholars will talk about the reality of field work at an event this week.

Four Gates Cambridge Scholars will tell their stories of life in the field at an event on 19th October.

The Scholar Stories event will cover archaeology from the Mediterranean to Central America, the role of technology in education, research on sex workers in Latin America and what our relations with dogs tell us about ourselves.

In her talk, Why we Dig It: Behind-the-Scenes Stories of Archeological Research, Sara Morriset [2016], who is doing a PhD in Archaeology,  will give an exciting, unpolished account of life in the field as an archeologist. From the islands of the Mediterranean to the jungles of Central America, Sara has had the opportunity to travel far and wide for her research and her presentation will include experiences as varied as getting caught in a huge rainstorm in the jungles of Guatemala amongst Mayan ruins, rushing to a jungle hospital after being bit by a poisonous spider in Belize and living for two months in the sand dunes of Ica without any cell phone reception or internet.

Mike Meany [2016], who is doing a PhD in Education, will be talking about the intersection of educational equity and technology. He will weave these themes into three stories about his former students: Alvaro, now attending Northwestern University; Ramon, a high school dropout; and Alejandra, a young woman who passed away long before her time. He says his reflections will “raise questions about the role that technology plays in our lives, how it holds tremendous promise for social good and human advancement while at the same time imposing insidious control and distortion onto our lives”.

Jessica Van Meir [2017], who is doing an MPhil in Development Studies, will speak about research she carried out in 2016 on sex work in Argentina and Ecuador. She will talk about how not obtaining security clearance in time for an intended internship with the US Embassy in Ecuador serendipitously helped her to be in just the right place at the right time to find sex workers to participate in her research. She spent her time wandering the streets of Buenos Aires till 5am, entering brothels with sex worker leaders in three Ecuadorian cities and working for a transgender rights organisation in Quito. She says: “While my talk is meant to be more entertaining than academic, most important for me is to convey the challenges that the 109 sex workers I interviewed faced in their daily lives and how they organised to demand their rights.”

Saba Sharma [2015], who is doing a PhD in Geography, will also talk about her fieldwork experiences meeting two dogs with very distinct personalities and a very antagonistic relationship with each other. One was endlessly affectionate and scared of everything and the other was aggressive, dominating and aloof. She will talk about an incident where one of the dogs was injured, how the other dog reacted, how she and others reacted as their carers and the different tricks of dog psychology that were tried on them to achieve peace between the two. She says: ”Our solution to the problem helps us realise why people/dogs can be aggressive or moody, and how dogs and humans tend to react much the same, depending on how you treat them, whether you decide to punish them, or just show them some love.”

Scholar Stories takes place from 7:00-9:00pm in the GSCR on 19th October.