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Cambridge Quaranchats

Cambridge Quaranchats

By Simone Eringfeld
Simone Eringfeld chats with students and academics at Cambridge University about life under lockdown, research during the pandemic and what inspires us in times of Covid-19.
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20. Podcasting and the post-coronial University, w/Simone Eringfeld
This is the final episode of Cambridge Quaranchats. This time, Simone Eringfeld is the one being interviewed! Guest host Eleanor Ryan asks Simone everything about Cambridge Quaranchats, how the podcast developed and what she has learnt along the way. Simone talks about her research on post-Covid futures of Higher Education, her use of podcasting as a research method and what the future will bring! Watch this space: a new podcast by Simone Eringfeld will soon be launched! 
September 29, 2020
19. Collaborating our way out of the Ivory Tower, w/BlueSci Pod (Part 2)
PODCAST SPECIAL, Part 2 (of 2): Today, we continue the conversation we started last week, about the connection between the sciences and humanities. Ruby Coates and Simone Eizagirre are the hosts of the BlueSci Podcast for the Cambridge University Science Magazine, and have recently released a series of episodes on some of the science behind COVID-19. In this second joint episode, we talk about how collaboration can help us get out of the Ivory Tower. Examining our own biases and motivations in our research is crucial for making academia more equitable, as well as improving the quality and impact of research. We also talk about some of the similarities in the issues faced by both the sciences and humanities, such as ownership of knowledge and ideas, the challenges of building up a career in academia, and the constant pressure to be productive and a ground-breaking 'genius'. What can the current situation teach us about the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration? How can we make research accessible to everyone? This episode offers plenty of laughs, and lots of food for thought! You can listen to the BlueSci Podcast on all major digital platforms via: and follow them on Twitter for updates (@BlueSciPod). Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Twitter (@CamQuaranchats) and leave a review on Apple Podcasts if you like what you hear.
July 20, 2020
18. Pandemic Partners: Sciences & Humanities link up, w/BlueSci Pod (part 1)
PODCAST SPECIAL, Part 1 (of 2): Ruby Coates and Simone Eizagirre are the hosts of The BlueSci Podcast for the Cambridge University Science Magazine, and have recently released a series of episodes on some of the science behind COVID-19, interviewing scientists researching different aspects of the pandemic. In this collaborative podcast special, we bring some of the best fragments from both of our podcasts, connecting to the central theme: 'How can the sciences and humanities come together to address the societal issues caused by Covid-19?' We also talk about how collaboration and communication between the sciences and the humanities can be more effective, and we examine how power structures within academia and prejudices across disciplines affect society as a whole. We continue this conversation next week, in part 2 of this special episode! You can listen to the BlueSci Podcast on all major digital platforms via: and follow them on Twitter for updates (@BlueSciPod). Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Twitter (@CamQuaranchats)
July 10, 2020
17. Transforming toxic masculinity through Poetry, w/Will McInerney
Will McInerney is a Gates Scholar and PhD Candidate at the Cambridge Faculty of Education. His research focuses on gender equality, masculinity and men's violence against women. Will is also an award-winning and highly talented poet, who has been using poetry as a vehicle for transformation in violence-prevention programs working with young men. In this episode, he shares his insights from years of experience as a peace practitioner and as a researcher, as he looks for new ways to engage men in working towards gender equality. He also brought along some of his own spoken word poetry to perform for us! I ask Will all kinds of questions, like: Why are men generally more violent than women, and is it true that 'boys will be boys', or can this be changed? Why do some men feel alienated from feminism, and how can we move from 'patriarchal' or toxic masculinity towards more healthy, peaceful conceptions of masculinity? Is violence against women a 'women's issue' only, or does it involve men too? Will powerfully makes the case for poetry, arts and community-based approaches to build trust, create space for vulnerability and to radically redefine what it means to be strong, courageous and brave, whilst also (in the words of bell hooks) being 'disloyal to patriarchy'. 
July 02, 2020
16. Preparing for new educational futures on & offline, w/Prof. Susan Robertson
Professor Susan Robertson is the Head of Faculty of Education, at Cambridge University. She is currently leading the Faculty in its transition to online education as a consequence of Covid-19. She is also a Professor of Sociology of Education, and her work explores themes around global governance and political economies underpinning education systems around the world. In this interview, we discuss some of the challenges as well as opportunities that the Faculty has encountered during its shift to online teaching and learning, including connected issues like communicating clearly in times of uncertainty, recruiting new Faculty members remotely, and expanding digital and tech literacy amongst students and staff. Questions such as 'How can we move examinations online whilst maintaining fairness and integrity?' and 'Should the University reconsider its commercialized business model?' are also addressed. Professor Robertson explains why, for her, the saying 'Never waste a good crisis' has been informing her approach to the Covid-19 pandemic both practically and intellectually. She reflects on possibilities to work towards a 'mixed economy' of both on & offline education, whilst preparing for the upcoming academic year at Cambridge University. Follow us @CamQuaranchats on Facebook and Twitter and leave us a review on Apple podcasts. 
June 25, 2020
15. The life of a college Porter in times of Covid19, w/Kevin Atkins
Kevin Atkins is a college porter at Clare Hall, Cambridge University. He previously also worked as a porter for Trinity College. In this episode, Kevin talks about what it's like to be a porter during the pandemic, what his job contains and how his life and profession have changed since the start of lockdown. He speaks about his experiences both at Clare Hall and at Trinity, possibly the two most different colleges in Cambridge in terms of size, culture, infrastructure and therefore also the 'porter's experience'. In this interview, he shares rare insights into essential porter tasks like managing tourists, bringing round mail and regulating who gets to step on the grass and who does not. We also talk about the importance of community during the pandemic, and how he has spent his 12-hour shifts on college grounds. Kevin is not only a porter, he was also in the British Navy and has crossed many waters in that capacity, working in places all around the world. I ask him what it has been like for him to go through such a drastic shift from the seaman's life to becoming a settled porter in Cambridge. Find Kevin's page on Clare Hall here, and follow us on Twitter @CamQuaranchats. 
June 17, 2020
14. How to be an anti-racist ally: Speak out! w/Collin Edouard
We continue the conversation about institutional racism at Cambridge University, in the light of current protests around the world against racial violence and inequality. Collin Edouard is a Gates scholar who studies choral music & conducting at the Department of Music. Collin has multiple experiences of being attacked and treated differently, simply for being Black in an institution that privileges whiteness. One particularly violent incident involving a Cambridge college porter, earlier this year, inspired him to start the #SpeakOut movement. Collin emphasizes the importance of being vocal and speaking out against racism, whenever you experience or witness it. Support for the movement has grown rapidly and has been joined by people from across the Cambridge community, to speak out against all forms of exclusion, from xenophobia to ableism. In this episode, we discuss why not being racist is simply not enough. In order to be an ally in the fight against systemic racism, we all need to be actively anti-racist, every single day.  Read about Collin's movement #SpeakOut here: Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Twitter (@CamQuaranchats) and leave a review if you like what you hear. 
June 10, 2020
13. Whiteness and Racism in the Academy and Beyond, w/Nia-Cerise Conteh
Nia-Cerise Conteh is a postgraduate student undertaking a Master's in Arts, Creativity and Education at the Faculty of Education. This episode  discusses the tragic recent losses of black lives in the US, as a consequence of racial violence and police brutality. Nia-Cerise talks about her experiences of being black within a predominantly white institution and relates her numerous encounters with institutional racism at Cambridge University. Police violence and racism do not just occur in the US, but persist around the world, including in the UK and within its academies. This episode addresses the culture of whiteness that prevails within Cambridge, and highlights the struggles that BME students experience on a daily basis. Nia-Cerise also shares insight into how we can become more aware of the ways in which racial structures socialize us and impact every aspect of our lives. More than anything, she stresses the importance of 'listening'.  Join the protest march to speak out against racism on Saturday the 6th of June, at 2 pm starting at Parker's Piece in Cambridge.  Find Nia-Cerise on Instagram or Twitter @niacerise ( and on Youtube under the name 'Crowned in Faith'. Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Facebook or Twitter @CamQuaranchats ( #JusticeforGeorge #BlackLivesMatter
June 03, 2020
12. Tackling the refugee crisis during Covid19, w/SolidariTEE founder Tiara Ataii
Tiara Ataii is the founder and director of SolidariTEE, the largest student-led charity in the UK. She is also a final year undergrad in 'Middle Eastern Studies' and a member of Robinson college. In 2019, Tiara was awarded the Vice-Chancellor's Social Impact Award for her organisation. SolidariTEE raises awareness and funds for the refugee crisis by selling t-shirts on over 40 university campuses across the UK. When Tiara started the campaign in her first year at Cambridge, she sold 600 t-shirts on her own, off her bike. Three years later, the campaign has almost 500 volunteers involved and raised over 150.000 pounds last year. Funds are invested in providing legal, sustainable aid to refugees in Greece. In this interview, Tiara reflects back on her journey with SolidariTEE: how it all started, what hurdles she overcame along the way and which new challenges are currently emerging for refugees during the pandemic.  Especially now, in times of Covid-19, refugees are exposed to even further risks. Threats to their health and wellbeing have worsened, as a consequence of living in tightly packed spaces, with no room to practise basic hygiene and social distancing. Tiara powerfully demonstrates how students can express solidarity and speak out in support of refugees. Visit to find out more and purchase your own t-shirt. Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Facebook or Twitter @CamQuaranchats (
May 27, 2020
11. Digital Sociology, Twitter & the 'Platform University', w/Dr Mark Carrigan
Dr. Mark Carrigan is a digital sociologist in the Faculty of Education, at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on how digital platforms are reshaping our education systems. Mark is the author of the book 'Social Media for Academics' and advises both individuals and organisations on their use of social media to build their identity and network online. In this episode, we discuss the use of social media during the coronavirus pandemic, when we're all spending increasing amounts of time online and in front of screens. Mark explains why, after publishing his book on social media, he decided to delete his personal Twitter account as a way to follow his own advice: ''Find a way to use social media that works for you.'' In this episode we discuss some of the recent issues with Zoom and the risk of increased surveillance built into these platforms. Mark points to the need to be more reflexive about the ways in which we use these tools in our academic practices, and how they influence our work and our interactions with each other. Mark has been working on a book on 'reflexivity' in connection to technology and digital platforms, and shares with us how his attitude towards them has changed throughout his time spent exploring digital media. He has also been trying to finish another work on the sociological phenomenon of 'distraction', but ironically enough, he has been too distracted to finish it! In this podcast, he explains why. I ask him everything from why social media can be so addictive, to what he thinks about the rapid digitization of education taking place today.  Find Mark's blog here:, to find out more. He also has his own podcast: Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Facebook and Twitter @CamQuaranchats. 
May 21, 2020
10. Storytelling for a post-pandemic future, w/Deena Newaz
Deena Newaz is an MPhil student at the Faculty of Education and a member of Wolfson College, Cambridge University. Before starting her Masters, Deena worked as an education and international development professional for WISE and the Qatar Foundation. She co-authored the recently published book ''Ed Futures: A Collection of Short Stories on the Future of Education''. In this episode, Deena and I discuss the importance of storytelling as a practice that helps us envision and shape possible futures to come. In her book, she used speculative fiction as a method to imagine what education might look like in a world increasingly impacted by migration, climate change and technological advancement. In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Deena argues that now more than ever, we should return to the ancient tradition of storytelling in order to prepare for the post-pandemic future. Rather than the future being fixed or pre-determined, stories can help us change trajectory and collectively imagine new pathways forward, including for institutions like Cambridge University. Deena also offers insights into how she has used this time of lockdown to explore her spiritual life more in-depth, and how she has found ways to cope with experiences of loss and grief. Whilst we mourn the loss of lives and of time, and even of the 'Cambridge Experience', creative space simultaneously opens up for new opportunities, new ideas and new stories to emerge. Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Facebook and Twitter @CamQuaranchats. 
May 14, 2020
9. Romania, racism and resistance in the light of Covid-19, w/Simina Dragos
Simina Dragos is a postgraduate student at Cambridge's Faculty of Education and a member of Fitzwilliam college. She is also an activist for Roma rights, and powerfully infuses advocacy into her academic work. In this episode, Simina points out the alarming increase of online racism in Romania directed against Roma people as a consequence of the pandemic. How does the global health crisis, and its accompanying measures of social distancing,  push minority groups even further to the margins of society? This discussion touches upon the challenges of (access to) online learning and working from home, as well as our social responsibility to take care of each other through difficult times, especially when state governments are unreliable in their response. For Simina, everyday resistance against the exacerbation of social inequalities ultimately lies within the simplest, yet simultaneously most difficult task of all: the act of taking up space. 
May 07, 2020
8. Living with hope in times of uncertainty, w/Angana Das
This episode, I am joined by Angana Das, an MPhil student in Education and International Development at Cambridge University. Her research focuses on the education of happiness in Indian schools, where she studies how students can be taught to be happier and more compassionate human beings. She is also a fellow of CPERG, the Conflict, Peace and Education Research Group at the Education Faculty. We discuss her latest blog article for CPERG, titled 'Hope in Times of Uncertainty', where she identifies three kinds of hope that are essential for this time of global pandemic: hope for being, hope for togetherness and hope for meaning. In this podcast interview, Angana shares with us her deepest insights into the importance of hopefulness by drawing on her personal experience of learning to live with a chronic pain disorder and the daily uncertainties that come with it. 
May 01, 2020
7. Carbon, climate change & the post-Covid19 University, w/Prof. Karen Pinkus
Dr. Karen Pinkus is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall and involved with the CRASSH centre at Cambridge University. Her work focuses on climate change and explores different kinds of fuel from a critical humanities perspective. In this episode, she discusses how Covid-19 and climate change may - and may not - effect one another and she clarifies some of the confusion around their connection. For instance, why are social media memes and images of clear skies and happy dolphins misleading our thinking about environmental change? After reflecting on 30 years of professorship within change-resistant institutions of higher education, Karen Pinkus looks ahead at the next 30 years to come. She raises important questions about the challenges that the University system, and the Humanities particularly, will face due to the pandemic. 
April 27, 2020
6. The home office and the future of humanities, w/Michelle Anjirbag
Michelle Anjirbag is a PhD student finishing up her doctoral dissertation on Children's Literature. She shares her expert advice on working from home and discusses how she deals with writing and supervising amidst uncertainty. While the future of academia and especially humanities is insecure and under threat, Michelle argues why now is the time for us to push back against the marketization of education, to speak up against ignorance and to elevate the voices of those that deserve to be heard. 
April 23, 2020
5. The do's and don'ts of student life under lockdown, w/Anna Oakes
Anna Oakes, MPhil student in Modern Languages student at Cambridge University, answers questions about what to do, and what NOT to do, in quarantine. Find out which item she stockpiles during quarantine, and what stands out to her most about the global political response to Covid-19. 
April 15, 2020
4. Dealing with unexpected change, w/Megan Robinson
In this episode I chat with Megan, a cultural anthropology student at Clare Hall, about how our research plans got affected by the Covid-19 crisis, and how we've dealt with this. We share our insights on the art of slowing down, practicing gratitude and being more present in the here and now.
April 15, 2020
3. Laughter is the best medicine, w/Kareem Tamam
Kareem Tamam is a Law student at Cambridge University with a talent for comedy. Kareem talks about the changes he has noticed as a result of Covid-19, such as the downfall of crime during lockdown, but also a surge of kite flyers in London. Find out what the 'Cambridge Experience' means to Kareem, why he struggles with being 'PC' (politically correct) and what his go-to quarantine soundtrack is. Be warned: this episode might just make you laugh!
April 12, 2020
2. Metaphors of war and the 'Cambridge Experience', w/Yomna Zentani
Yomna talks about her previous experiences with lockdown during Arab Spring and what she thinks about using metaphors of war in the Covid-19 context. She also explains why she is happy that the 'Cambridge experience' didn't turn out to be how she had imagined it. Bonus: find out Yomna's life hack on how to get the best seats at formal halls!
April 10, 2020
1. Music and creativity in times of Covid-19, w/Eleanor Ryan
In this kick-off episode, I chat with Eleanor Ryan about the importance of music in times of crisis. Eleanor is a professional violinist, who worked in the Caribbean island of Trinidad for nearly 10 years. She is now doing a Master's at Cambridge University in Arts, Creativity and Education and plans on continuing for a PhD after the summer. Her research explores the 'whiteness' of classical music and the performativity of race in musical pedagogy. Her work is auto-ethnographic and critically investigates the role of white music teachers in the Caribbean context. In this episode, we discuss the ways in which musicians around the world have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the resilience of many artists and musicians when it comes to finding new channels of creativity. We also discuss the flourishing of new friendships in Cambridge during this time of collective quarantine and our initial experiences of the pandemic in the UK, right after the country moved into lockdown. 
April 08, 2020