Euroculture Spotlight #3: James Leigh
02 Feb 2017
The third edition of the Euroculture spotlight features Euroculture Groningen’s very own James Leigh. He is an alumnus of Euroculture who now works as a lecturer for the programme in Groningen. Next to that, he works on his PhD. You can find more information on his research on his blog. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, James!
What is your affiliation with Euroculture?
I currently work as a lecturer for the programme in Groningen, where I am mainly involved in the Eurocompetence courses and preparing students for the IP. In addition, I am also an alumnus of Euroculture, having graduated in 2009.
What is your current occupation?
As well as teaching classes for Euroculture, I am working towards obtaining my PhD. My research focuses on Kosovo, where I worked for a number of years after graduation. During that time I became interested in the complexity of the situation with regards to identification which has arisen there since the independence declaration in 2008. Thus through my research project I seek to develop an improved understanding of how processes of identification function in the current context, particularly at individual and social levels.
Where have you studied during Euroculture?
I began my studies in Groningen, went to Krakow for the second semester and concluded with a research semester at Osaka University.
Would you like to share something special about your Euroculture experience?
Since joining the team in 2012, I have been lucky enough to participate in three IPs as a tutor. It has been great to be able to revisit an event which I myself enjoyed greatly as a student, to experience this again with today’s Euroculture students, but whilst also seeing it from a different perspective. Another rather special aspect for me personally is that many of the great people whom I met during my time as a Euroculture student have continued to be important to me in the years since and I always enjoy catching up with them when I can.
What did you like the most about Euroculture?
I loved the mobility aspect for one thing; it was great to have the opportunity to study and live in so many different environments within such a short space of time. I doubt I would have had the chance in any other context to spend several months living in Japan, for example. I tend to find I get itchy feet after being in one place for a while, so in that respect Euroculture suited me perfectly. I think another aspect I appreciated greatly about the programme as a student was that it gave me new perspectives on ways to approach cultural studies. After finishing my Bachelor degree I wasn’t sure about the broader applicability of the discipline. During my Euroculture studies I began to see how it was possible to relate the analysis of different modes and artefacts of culture to important societal issues. In this way I gained a clearer sense of the purpose of what I had studied and how I had learned to approach and analyse materials in the past.
What did you do before Euroculture?
I studied English Language and Literature at the University of Manchester. During my Bachelor studies I also spent a year as an Erasmus student at the University of Vienna. Between the end of my BA and starting Euroculture I spent two years in Dresden where I worked as an English language assistant for children and young adults.
What are your plans for the future?
Regarding the immediate future: I will spend the next half year in Kosovo conducting fieldwork for my research project. Indeed for the next few years I will be working on completion of my PhD here in Groningen!