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Paul Merchant

Reflections on CLAS: Paul Merchant, current PhD student

I’ve been at CLAS for three years now, having done the MPhil and then started a PhD on contemporary Argentine and Chilean cinema. One of the best things about being a student here is that people work on an amazing array of topics across the humanities and social sciences, and I’m often surprised by the connections that pop up between my work and other projects. It certainly makes my research more enjoyable, and it’s a strong argument in favour of the multi-disciplinary, area studies approach that CLAS offers. 

The Centre is very good at nurturing its community of scholars, by providing a shared workspace and holding events like the regular Monday evening seminars and other talks, conferences, etc. One of these that sticks in my memory is a weekend of film screenings organised by a group of PhD students in 2015. The weekend ended with a Q&A with the renowned Chilean actor Alfredo Castro, for whom I unexpectedly found myself having to provide simultaneous translation. Luckily, he proved to be considerably less intimidating in person than he tends to be on screen!  

CLAS is a place where you get to know people very quickly - this has something to do with its size, but rather more to do with the warmth and generosity of the people who work and study here. So I’m grateful not just for the exchange of ideas, and for the opportunity to travel for research and conferences, but also for the friends I’ve made.

September 2016