Lorena Fuentes

PhD Development

Lorena had been living in London for six years, first as a Master’s student and then working in the women’s/girls rights sector, when she decided to enrol on a PhD at Birkbeck. She says: “Prior to enrolling I knew about the work of my PhD supervisor, Jasmine Gideon in Birkbeck’s Department of Geography, and knew that I wanted to study with her.

'I’d also heard that Birkbeck had a very progressive approach to social science research and I have not been disappointed. I have two supervisors, one in GEDS and one in the Department of Psychosocial studies. I have peers studying at other universities who barely see their supervisors, let alone have two, so it has been brilliant in that respect.

'It is also very interdisciplinary and I have been able to dip in and out of disciplines in a way that wouldn’t have been possible elsewhere. I have found the access that I have to talks and doctoral seminars has been fantastic. With the support of my supervisor I chair a doctoral seminar and we’ve invited students from other universities. You get an amazing cross-fertilization of schools, disciplines, perspectives and students in London.

'My research focuses  on the political economy of violence against women in Guatemala. My particular ethnographic research project, however, involves an investigation into how the Guatemalan women’s/feminist movement ‘inserts’ the issue of violence discursively and institutionally into the national body politic. This involves an exploration into the uses of the human rights discourse and the push for new laws and legislation pertaining to violence against women. Through my research, I want to explore the material and symbolic contradictions involved in how the Guatemalan women’s movement works to challenge and eradicate extreme forms of gender-based violence.

'For me, the number one reason to study in London as a postgraduate student is the facilities which are on offer. I have used almost every single library within the University of London.

'Of course, London is a really fun city too. There’s so much to do here that you sometimes have to make yourself slow down and remember that you’re here to do research. I try to go to lectures and talks which are also social events, because you get to meet speakers and students from all over the world as well as socialising. It’s definitely a city with a fast pulse, and as long as you’re prepared for that it’s one of the best places to be!'

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