Our Students

Zaina

ZAINA AHMED

Why are you passionate about sociology?

‘Doing’ Sociology necessitates a constant interrogation of how ideas and epistemologies are justified. Being critical of power and what mechanisms allow for the perpetuation of certain truths (particularly when it comes to race in gender) is something I am very passionate about. Now that I am writing my own thesis I have also been thinking about how to be a responsibility researcher. I really care about how personal narratives and lived experiences can be granted legitimacy in academia, particularly in how they can be used to construct critical and accurate accounts of the social world.



Tell us about your exchange program experience

I was chosen by the department to participate in an informal exchange with the University of Tokyo. The purpose of the trip was to explore cultural differences in how cities are designed and built as well as how we think about urban spaces. In the first half of the program a group of Australian students completed a short program in Japan. We then had the opportunity to host our peers from the University of Tokyo here in Sydney. Over the course of the exchange we watched films, went on a hike, and even visited a flood management facility in Tokyo. It was a really great experience that had nothing to do with anything I had every studied before, so it was a lot of fun!



What's next for you?

I am currently an Honours candidate and am looking at the lived experiences of users of the oral contraceptive pill. Contributing to an existing body of work on biomedicalization and the biopolitics of contraceptives, it examines how users negotiate their use of the pill and the extent to which they express elements of neoliberal and postmodern subjectivities. The methodology is also an exercise in how users of drugs can be embodied knowers. After its completion I will be taking some time consider what direction I would like to take if I pursue further study in this field. There is potential to do further theoretical work on the construction of bodies, but I may also consider doing more policy-orientated work dealing with contraception and sex education.



elsher

ELSHER LAWSON-BOYD

Why did you study sociology?

I began my tertiary studies as a Bachelor of Policing student at the University of Western Sydney. In the first six months of the course I was introduced to the study of Sociology, which instantly spurred my curiosity. I found myself fascinated by the ways in which sociological theory and practice could provide an understanding of our identity, our environment, our technologies and our place in society. With a strong background in the arts and an underlying curiosity in the natural sciences, sociology for me seemed to encompass a kind of creativity and imagination that could be used to project critical investigation. After becoming more and more intrigued by the discipline I decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney as a means of pursuing my love for film and the social sciences in tandem.



What did you enjoy most about the sociology major?

The opportunities it opened up. This sounds broad, but sociology has expanded my world in terms of the people I met, the knowledge and ideas I was exposed to, and the path I find myself on now. At the end of my degree I had a chance to take part in an intensive exchange workshop at the University of Tokyo, and I have just come back from a Summer School program in Amsterdam. Sociology fosters collaborative, international partnerships, which I really felt like I was encouraged to be a part of. Not to mention taking a third-year class in Science and Technology Studies (STS), which was just brilliant!



Who inspires you?

Oh gosh, many many people. My Masters supervisor Sonja van Wichelen for one. Listening to her articulate ideas around science, biopolitics and technology evoked my excitement for sociology in a whole new way. Also my grandmother. Her feminism, her generosity and her courage has always inspired me, particularly when things get hard. And I have to say Clementine Ford, her work reminds me there are people out there fighting the good fight.



What advice would you give someone considering studying your discipline?

It will change the way you see the world, so keep asking questions and always keep an open mind. Education is an experience, so take all that you can from it.



zsuzsanna

ZSUZSANNA DOMINIKA IHAR

Why did you choose to study sociology?

Having previously studied immunology and psychology, I wanted to pursue a field of study which was interdisciplinary enough to accommodate for my criss-crossing interests and passions. Sociology, specifically Science and Technology studies, captivated me from the very start due to its desire to entangle the theoretical with the material and structural. Its focus on modes of governance, inter-special and intra-agential narratives, as well as novel conceptual frameworks, was a major attractant, and revealed to me the innovation present within the discipline. Furthermore, the fact that it refused to be apolitical in praxis — constantly incorporating feminist and postcolonial theory, as well as disability studies, within the study material— provided an educational environment which was not only inclusive and challenging, but also highly necessary (considering contemporary political and social struggles).



What work placement or exchange programs have you participated in? 

During my degree I worked as a research assistant at the Centre for Eating Disorders and Dieting, focusing on policy implementation and research, strategic planning for eating disorders, as well as the development of an interactive treatment program. I also participated in a number of workshops and forums — including a masterclass with Dr. Elizabeth Wilson at ANU, a New Materialism workshop at UNSW, as well as an annual forum regarding Epigenetics at USyd. I was also lucky enough to be selected for a Tokyo University summer exchange, investigating inter-culturalism in today’s world. In addition to these programs, I also regularly attend USyd’s Biopolitics of Science Reading Group.



What advice would you give someone considering studying your discipline? 

Read closely, slowly, and patiently. Lengthen your attention span in order to allow yourself to truly critique what you’ve read. Don’t be dissuaded from using the autobiographic and the personal, at the risk of offending traditional sensibilities or losing ‘objectivity’. Intimate narratives are not only important but also vital. Be political and concerned about the material stakes. Furthermore, make sure that what you end up writing can be properly understood by the very community/individual/demographic you seek to represent, incorporate, or impact. Academia should not be insular and academic work should not be undecipherable. Furthermore, make ethics your priority — don’t thoughtlessly transform individuals and their lives into your own personal or scholarly resource. And lastly, always engage wider than the reading/reference list provided in the syllabus; open multiple books, tabs, and files, in order to locate a myriad of sources, as well as sites of inspiration.