Case study

Founder Humanised International — Amrit Kaur Lohia

After studying for an MA in history Amrit, a singer-songwriter, founded Humanised - a social enterprise dedicated to humanising history through the arts

What first got you interested in history?

I have always been fascinated with the past, but my involvement with history was redefined for me on a trip to Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland for The Lessons from Auschwitz Project by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

I became an ambassador for them and met many Holocaust and Rwandan genocide survivors. We went around schools to teach the dangers of discrimination. It was the first time that history and social activism merged for me. I felt its power and knew this idea of humanising history could be replicated for other histories, including my own.

What was your experience of MA History at SOAS?

Studying history at SOAS made me realise how connected the world really is and how important it is to study 'the other side of the world'.

SOAS is incredibly inclusive. Everyone fits in somewhere, and your perspective is valued by fellow students and lecturers, who are all eager to absorb what you have to say. SOAS is known for being politicised and a hub for social action, but it also has an unmatched ethos and culture.

What inspired you to start Humanised?

By the time I finished my BA and began my MA, I was a passionate historian, a touring musician, an experienced youth worker and I was an ambassador for various charities that championed causes I really cared about.

So, instead of trying to pick one thing to pursue, I decided to put all of them together and set up a social enterprise - Humanised.

Humanised combines experiential learning activities with music, theatre and games to educate young people and wider communities across the world about society and history. We encourage people to engage with historical evidence and archives and think critically, to ultimately humanise our stories.

Can you describe a typical working day?

Some days are spent researching, others are spent recording, rehearsing and performing. I still coach and mentor regularly, both in the UK and on international programmes. This work keeps me grounded and makes me a better educator. I learn so much from younger students. Their perspective is invaluable and I get to keep up with the latest slang and music trends.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I want to ensure Humanised grows in a way that is relevant to the social (and global) context we are living in. It is easy for start-ups to be led astray when following funding schemes to survive.

I want to keep learning from all the musicians, artists, entrepreneurs, activists, academics and communities I work with.

Any advice for prospective history students?

Know that at SOAS you are not only a student, you are also a teacher. SOAS students and teachers are all eager to learn, and we all have something to share.

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