PhD African Studies and Anthropology student, Stacey Kennedy, returned to Birmingham 20 years after she started her undergraduate degree at the University. We found out more about her experience as a researcher at the University of Birmingham.
Why did you choose to undertake research at the University of Birmingham?
“I initially came to the University of Birmingham to study an undergraduate degree in African Studies and Cultural studies in 1995 because I was passionate to learn more about how people live both in the UK and abroad, the forces that shape their lives, what motivates and drives them, and how they conceptualise the world. The University of Birmingham offered me the perfect setting, combining the expertise of the African Studies Department (CWAS) and the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS). After my undergraduate degree I pursued a career in the arts and social research, whilst bringing up my three children. I returned to Birmingham in 2015 to study for a part time MRes in African Studies which developed my academic focus in African visual arts. I absolutely loved being back in academia, and I have been fortunate to be able to pursue this research to doctoral level.
“I wanted to continue my study at University of Birmingham because the African Studies department has such an extensive history of research expertise on West Africa, as well as social and cultural anthropology. I have been inspired the work of notable academics in the department such as Professor Karin Barber and Professor Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias. I am also passionate about the Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts and wanted to work with the collection as part of my research. I have been fortunate to create an M4C funded placement with the collection, which involves exciting new research into women and collecting.”
What are the best things about your course?
“I love being a part of the academic community at Birmingham. My Department is small but incredibly supportive. I enjoy regular research seminars which keep me up to date with the latest developments in African Studies and Anthropology and there is a yearly conference which brings scholars from Africa to the University and is great for understanding what academics on the continent are working on.”
What is life like as a researcher at the University of Birmingham?
“Life as a researcher is extremely rewarding. I balance the demands of study with the demands of children and the University supports me in this. The facilities are very good, the new library is easy to use and post grad spaces are usually available.”
What support have you received during your PhD?
“I have been part of the mentoring scheme, which was excellent. I have been supported by the University in making several successful research funding applications to allow my research in Nigeria, Morocco and the United States. I have been offered a French language course and have undertaken many self-directed or taught learning opportunities through the academic services.”
Find out more studying for a African Studies PhD over on our course pages.