skip to content

Image: Lecture course delivered by Carlos Fuentes, Simón Bolívar Chair, 1986-7


Recollections of CLAS: Christine Hunefeldt, MPhil student, late 1970s

Professor in the History Department of the University of California, San Diego

I came to Cambridge out of Peru thanks to a British Council fellowship. My goal had been to do a PhD in Anthropology. It never materialized because dear Margareth Thatcher cut all the fellowships for foreign students and I had to turn my brains and eyes toward Germany, where I finished my PhD at Bonn University in 1982. In other words I traveled from Social Anthropology with Jack Goody to Social, Economic, and Legal History, Ethnology, and “Alt-Amerikanistik” with Udo Oberem. Thanks to the months-long stay in Cambridge, to this day – if you have a look at my publications – I apply much of the learned anthropological methodologies to my archival-historical research. The months in Cambridge were a systematic diving into the most important theoretical and methodological readings and discussions that have been valuable companions ever since.

Also to this day, my North American colleagues often sense that I do have a “Cambridge accent”. The months I spent in Cambridge, I stayed at Darwin College. Darwin’s dean told me I had an “American accent”, so we made a bet... I was going to show him I could – at the end of my stay – be ‘fluent’ in the local accent. Once a week I went to the language laboratory in Cambridge to learn “Cambridge” and Quechua (the Incan imperial language). When my stay was coming to an end, Darwin’s dean came to talk to me over dinner at the college. He was unconvinced, and in his nice British way he commented: “There is room for improvement”! By now, I guess, my American-Cambridge accent has morphed into a Californian accent. I have been in San Diego since 1990.

July 2016