Why Scotland?

Hannah Yoken is a Finnish-American SGSAH / AHRC funded PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow researching transnational Nordic feminism from a historical perspective. During her studies Hannah has specialised in the development of various social movements and countercultures in post-war Europe and North America. Methodologically, she has a strong interest in oral history and social theory. You can follow Hannah on Twitter @hannhkarina.


Stuck in a rut? Sometimes a change of scenery is exactly what you need to get your PhD back on track. This could be a minor getaway. Instead of working in your office why not sdrgo to a café? Or like me, you might need to go abroad and find that there is not much else you can do during an eight-hour bus ride across Sweden than focus on planning and writing your thesis.

I spent nearly two months in Finland and Sweden last fall conducting primary research, thanks to SGSAH Student Development Funding (SDF), and it was one of the best experiences of my PhD journey so far. My time up north was highly rewarding. I came back to Glasgow in mid-December having conducted sixteen oral history interviews and taken hundreds of archive photos, as well as having received valuable feedback at two conference where I presented my research – all this in less than two months. Indeed, this is one of the greatest benefits of a SDF-funded research trip: Limitations in terms of time and resources mean that work needs to be done swiftly and efficiently, yet with skill and precision.


In November I attended the Gender Studies Conference 2017: Gender Through Time, organised in collaboration between the University of Jyväskylä and the Association for Gender Studies in Finland (SUNS).

If you have been following this blog regularly, you will know that this was not my first SDF-funded trip abroad. I spent a few weeks in Finland and Sweden in the spring of 2017, setting into motion the research that I completed last fall. And I’ll hopefully be embarking to Denmark later this spring.

As you might have inferred from these numerous visits to the Nordic countries, my research is thoroughly international. I am a Finnish-American doctoral candidate living in Scotland and I work on the transnational development of feminism in the Nordic countries. At times this can cause confusion. While attending the SGSAH second year residential last September I was asked, like many times before, why I am doing my doctoral research at a Scottish university instead of a Nordic institution. I could go on for ages explaining exactly why I chose to pursue my doctoral degree in Scotland, but here’s the short answer: The Centre for Gender History at the University of Glasgow is the only of its kind in the world, my supervisors are an excellent match for my project, and the support offered by SGSAH is invaluable.


My view of Helsinki while I scurried from one oral history interview to the next.

As a European person living in post-Brexit Britain, at times I have jumped to conclusions and interpreted these ‘Why Scotland?’ questions as politically charged. However, this is almost never the case. Instead, the people I meet are genuinely interested in why I chose to stay in Scotland, despite researching the Nordic countries. Similarly, everyone I have come into contact with in Finland, Sweden and Denmark have been delighted that their northern corner of Europe is capturing the imaginations of the academic community in Scotland. Therefore, in my experience Scotland is an excellent home base for conducting internationally minded and transnationally linked academic research. And SGSAH is an excellent partner that enables this research to come to life.


We are always seeking new guest bloggers! If you have an idea for a blog post or would like to informally discuss writing for the SGSAH blog please get in touch with David via email at d.peters.2@research.gla.ac.uk or connect with the blog on Twitter

One thought on “Why Scotland?

  1. Dr. John S. Farnsworth says:

    I was in the same boat earning my PhD recently. I’m from California, my research was in Baja, Mexico, but I completed my PhD in Scotland because my Scottish supervisor was a perfect match for my project. I have few regrets about doing it that way because it increased the rigor of how I wrote up my research. It was a lonely process, admittedly, but now that the thesis is being published as a book, I’m thrilled with the results.


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