Case study

Researcher — Dr Isla Forsyth

After completing an MRes and PhD at the University of Glasgow, Isla is now working as a cultural and historical military geographer

I study the role of the military in shaping the world we live in - not just in battlefields, but how the military diffuses through and alters culture, knowledge and individual lives. My research aims to produce a collection of overlooked narratives of those who have been enrolled in the military and have shaped, in some way, the geographies of contemporary conflict and the militarisation of culture.

I spend a lot of my time exploring historical archives in universities, museums and art galleries, which I then draw on to present my ideas at conferences and seminars, write research papers, teach students, participate in research and reading groups and participate in collaborative activity with other researchers. I also present my work to the general public at museums and history societies.

At university, I chose course options that promoted an interest in historical and cultural geography. With the support of my undergraduate tutor, I felt confident and enthusiastic about applying for the Masters course and seeking funding.

I find it satisfying to know that my research is contributing to knowledge in the subject and that it is of interest to other people.

Historical research can be lonely, since you spend many hours, days and weeks, alone at a desk going through mounds of documents. Yet, it is that work that enables you to develop incredibly fruitful collaborations. Sharing what you found with others, finding points of connections, or themes in common with other researchers. The friendships and bonds you build while doing such an intense research project are incredibly supportive and make the experience a lot of fun.

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