Ola! I’m Helena Miguélez-Carballeira, usually tweeting at @hmcarballeira. I am a Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Bangor University (Wales). I am also the Director of the Centre for Galician Studies in Wales and currently a British Academy Mid-Career Fellow working on my research project “Towards a Postcolonial Spain: Culture, Politics and Material Realities”.
I am originally from Galicia (a stateless nation in north-West Spain) and since 2005 I have lived in North Wales, where I moved after completing my PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Broadly speaking, my work involves the usual –yet rapidly shifting– tasks of contemporary academic life in UK Higher Education: I teach at undergraduate and postgraduate level, I supervise postgraduate research, I research and write in a variety of areas (Hispanic Studies, Galician Studies, Translation Studies) and I will soon dabble in University management (overseeing postgraduate matters at Bangor University’s College of Arts and Humanities from September 2016 onwards) –all laced with tons of email, running around in corridors and international travel.
Crazy and hectic as the above may sound, I am someone who cares about all that work-life balance talk in academia –and surely other professions, but I’ll stick to what I know. Reading Niamh NicGhabhann’s tweets for @WetheHums about “competitive busyness/stress” in academia during her curatorship in early February 2016 was an eye-opener for me, as it offered a terminology for a set of practices that I have observed in the profession and engaged with myself over the years (tweeting virtuously about doing work on Sundays; about how many words one has written towards that book chapter or how many emails one has answered in one morning). Like Niamh, I am currently inclined to think that such practices do more harm than good in our work places and networks, not to mention their scant contribution to the research fields and intellectual debates to which we aim to contribute. During my week at We the Humanities, I would like to take up this topic again, engage early career researchers in the discussion and collectively consider ways of communicating our work that do not reproduce the dynamics of competitive busyness in academia.
In general terms, my research has always focused on questions of power emerging in contexts of intercultural conflict, and I am pretty rubbish at not doing this. As a Hispanist specialised in peninsular Spain, I have found that the tools of feminist and postcolonial theories have aided me in the task of studying the country’s ongoing internal national conflicts. You may have heard about the Basque and Catalan (and possibly also the Galician) pro-independence movements, but the current “contestedness” of Spanish territorial consensus (sealed legally by the Constitution of 1978) is far more complex and includes political and cultural activism also in the Valencian region, the Balearic islands, Castile, Andalucía, Aragon, Asturias and the Canary islands. My current project, funded by the British Academy, seeks to work on a postcolonial/feminist critique of the various imaginaries of territorial consensus in Spain (many of them gendered, as the metaphor of Catalan-Spanish relations as a marriage and stereotypes such as that of Galician sentimentality, Catalan failed masculinity or Basque “ethnic” virility). I am also researching the cultural histories developing on the reverse of these soft discourses, histories that include forms of cultural activity that do not shun an anticolonial critique of contemporary Spain and are, for that reason, subject to political repression and material hardship. During my curatorship of We the Humanities, I’ll be tweeting about this often unknown side of contemporary Spanish politics.
I communicate my research via a range of publications –my books, Galicia, a Sentimental Nation: Gender, Culture and Politics (2013), which was translated into Galician-Portuguese as Galiza, um povo sentimental? Género, cultura e política no imaginário nacional galego in 2014 and received a national award in 2015, and A Companion to Galician Culture (2014)– but also in talks, presentations and media interviews in those areas where my work is more politically relevant. Although I love the slightly reclusive demands of large-scale research projects based on historical critique, I could not possibly do what I do without learning constantly from those activists in social movements who live out the political realities I describe in my work. Some of my tweets for We the Humanities, as you will notice, will also be in homage to them.