I joined the college as a Junior Research Fellow in 2014 from UCL where I specialized in the history of science and medicine, and East European Studies, so my first year in College has paralleled the passage of our 60th Anniversary blog. What I’ve noticed is a community which is hugely diverse, with staff, students and alumnae not only contributing to life in College and Cambridge, but also to wider society, with an incredible range of skills and interests. It has also encouraged me to reflect on my own aspirations and expectations as an early career researcher.
My work focuses primarily on the history of mental health and its treatment in the modern period up to the present. This is a topic with which a number of students are engaging with in their research essays and dissertations at Cambridge. As a result of this current interest, I recently began convening a Graduate Seminar on the area at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science for students to explore the literature surrounding historical development of psychiatry and psychology, as well as contemporary policy debates in mental health. In the Easter term we’ll be visiting the newly opened Bethlem Museum of the Mind in South London, which holds archival and gallery materials along with new exhibitions that I hope will stimulate further discussion and research on the topic.
The Junior Research Fellowship system at Cambridge offers a unique level of flexibility, allowing early career scholars to have autonomy over how they develop their skills and research in a way that is most appropriate for their career stage. The fellowship has provided the time and space to allow me to complete a co-edited volume entitled Psychiatry in Communist Europe, which will be coming out with Palgrave MacMillan later this year, along with a collaboration with the British Psychological Society on their forthcoming book project, Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives.
Academic futures are never predictable but ideally the next 5 years will include publishing a book based on my recent research, which explores understandings of mental health and disorder under Communism in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, and eventually aiming to secure a lectureship following the completion of the research fellowship.
One thing which has really struck me about Murray Edwards since I’ve arrived is that it has become one of the strongest colleges for Modern History, given that we now have five historians covering research from the early modern period to the late 20th century. I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with them on teaching in the college next year, and working with the students to achieve their academic goals. Whilst the freedom to guide my own research and teaching activities has been a real privilege, I’ve also appreciated how supportive the college’s fellows are towards their newer members. Mentoring in higher education is crucial, and I think Murray Edwards has particular strengths in this, making it a wonderful academic community to be part of as I make the most of current opportunities and look ahead to the future.
Junior Research Fellow