When first applying to the Brackenridge Fellowship, I was aware of the emphasis on interdisciplinary work and engagement; however, I was not sure what this would look like in practice within the fellowship. I was really surprised and excited to hear about the cohort system that I am lucky enough to be involved in this summer. In every Brackenridge class, we have the opportunity to turn to an interdisciplinary cohort and share our research experiences as well as ask each other questions and problem solve. This intellectual engagement across a wide variety of subjects aligns for a synergistic benefit and allows me to view my project from different perspectives.
There are so many things I hope to learn through this experience. One thing I hope to gain through these discussions with other Brackenridge recipients is better strategies for the literature review process. Being involved in the social sciences background discussion and the context that your work falls into is so important to have. I, unfortunately, have really struggled in the past with organizing background readings in an efficient way. In order to sharpen my literature review skills, I tried reaching out to my peers, especially in the humanities.
I have learned a lot from many people in my cohort, but I have especially learned from Camila Aguayo. Camila Aguayo is working on a project that spans the fields of art history and anthropology. She is working towards understanding how the effects of colonialism in Puerto Rico have affected native Puerto Rican artists. She is especially looking to understand the notions of hybridity and influence in artists such as Jose Campeche and Francisco Oller. Camila’s work is very impressive and is very different from my own. While I work with human subjects, Camila’s work involves reading primary and secondary documents as well as analyzing works of art. It has been so interesting learning about how research in this field is done especially because background reading is done on a far more limited scope in my project. I have especially been very interested in hearing her discuss the issue of bias in research. While it is absolutely possible to have a bias in the social sciences, bias is treated very differently in the humanities. Camila has spoken about needing to acknowledge her perspectives within her thesis work, as well as bounce ideas off her mentor before writing them in order to demonstrate that bias is not being inputted into her work. By sharing many of her strategies for time management and organization I have been able to develop a better methods for the reading process, which have been very helpful thus far.
I have really loved learning from this community so far. While communication may be more difficult within interdisciplinary works, I feel that having a variety of theoretical frameworks from new areas can make a study more robust and nuanced, outweighing the challenges of needing to be cautious when using jargon. It has been incredibly valuable so far to learn from this community, and I am excited to expand my knowledge with more interdisciplinary conversation!