Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities success for Aberdeen PhD students

Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities success for Aberdeen PhD students

Four University of Aberdeen PhD candidates have been awarded scholarships by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH).

Gabriela Domené-López, Jovita Fawcett, Edda Starck and Zoe Strong will join the graduate alliance, which was established in 2014 to give a strong and unifying voice to Scotland’s arts and humanities and promote their value to the nation’s society, culture and the economy.

The SGSAH is home to the AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Scotland and is the world’s first national graduate school in the Arts and Humanities. They are committed to fostering researchers who are talented, caring, ethical and reflective professionals with a demonstrable commitment to generating and mobilising knowledge across a range of scholarly, professional and public communities.

Each doctoral scholar will receive a generous stipend at the minimum UKRI rate (£18,688 in academic year 2023/24) plus fees and access to a Research Training Support Grant. They will also undertake the SGSAH core training programme with fundamental training activities which will support them to develop their skills as future research leaders and have access to resources through SGSAH’s strong links and national networks with supporter organisations in the education, creative, cultural and heritage sectors.

Gabriela Domené-López, who started her PhD in October 2022, is exploring the University’s Latin American collections, which are the largest of any Scottish university. However, they are notably understudied, making them an overlooked resource for understanding Scottish and Latin American encounters and ways to make evident and then decolonise obscure imperial networks.

She is researching how the collections were acquired, how the collecting and exchange relationships connected Latin America and Aberdeen, how makers, collectors and donors were impacted by imperial practices and how these power dynamics shaped the creation and sharing of knowledge around the collections.

Jovita Fawcett will commence her studies in October 2023.  Her project, entitled Zootropolis: Mult-species archaeological, ecological and historical approaches to animals in Medieval urban Scotland, aims to shed new light on the intricate relationships between humans, animals and the environment during the medieval period. 

The project, focusing on the north-east of Scotland and utilising the extensive historic records of the Royal Burgh of Aberdeen, is based in Archaeology and History and will delve into the diverse niches occupied by animals in medieval cities. Through a combination of bioarchaeological techniques such as zooarchaeological analysis and stable isotope analysis, along with textual analysis, and using a multi-species framework, this project will explore the social and ecological spaces of domestic and commensal animals co-created through urbanity.

Edda Starck will commence her research project entitled, Landscapes of Music: The more-than-human lives and politics of musical instruments, inn October 2023.  This project will delve into the complex interplay between landscapes, musical instruments, and the diverse array of species involved in their creation.

The project specifically focuses on the renowned German violin-making town of Mittenwald, where the landscapes have been profoundly shaped by the centuries-long tradition of crafting bowed string instruments.  The rich cultural heritage of Mittenwald is intrinsically tied to the cultivation of trees with exceptional resonating qualities, which are integral to the production of superior violin sound. This unique violin-building heritage has given rise to rare cultural landscapes that exist alongside the town's prominence as a centre for violin making. However, the research will also examine the broader implications of violin making, including its connection to threatened Brazilian forests due to the colonisation and import of tropical woods for bow-making.

Zoe Strong’s project entitled Dyslexia, the Bible and Community commenced in October 2022.  Dyslexic adults often experience associated mental health issues and exclusion. Despite this, conversations about the lived experience of dyslexic adults, representing 7-10% of the population, are limited. To address this knowledge gap and foster the inclusion of dyslexic adults, this research explores the experience of dyslexic Christians within faith communities, specifically looking at Bible reading practices. Approaching this through the lens of theology provides tools to explore normative frameworks of communities. Through qualitative research, this project constructs a theology of dyslexia and enables dyslexic Christians to propose theologically grounded strategies for inclusion, support and thriving, generalisable to other community settings.   

The Vice-Principal for Research, Professor Marion Campbell said "We are thrilled that four of our talented graduate students have been awarded scholarships by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities. This recognition not only celebrates their exceptional abilities but also highlights their potential to make significant contributions to our culture and society.  We are confident that their funding success will enrich their research endeavours and amplify their voices as future leaders in their respective fields."

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