Miranda Carlson-Strain is in the second year of her MA in anthropology. Her research is funded by SSHRC and she was awarded the ISER Masters Fellowship for 2018-2019. Originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, she moved to St. John’s to pursue further studies after completing her Bachelor of Arts & Science and Anthropology (Honours) at McMaster University. She has a love for travel and experiencing other cultures. In her spare time she plays guitar, reads a lot of young adult fiction, and hikes around Signal Hill.
How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your graduate degree?
I decided to attend Memorial for several reasons. Firstly, I was eager to experience a different part of Canada and the opportunity to live in St. John’s, and next to the ocean, was very compelling. Secondly, the thesis program in the anthropology department gives me the opportunity to explore my research interests in a supportive environment.
What drew you to explore anthropology originally?
In high school I took a course called “Intro to Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology” that initially piqued my interest in the field. In my first year of university, I was reminded of how much I enjoyed anthropology when I took an evolutionary biology course that had a unit on the evolution of modern humans. After that, I took as many anthropology electives as possible, covering archaeology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology. By my fourth year, I had taken courses on medical anthropology, the anthropology of sound, anthropology of security, and many more. I had enough credits for a combined honours in anthropology and decided to apply for my MA.
Can you tell us a bit about your current projects?
Currently, I am conducting fieldwork for my thesis, entitled “LGBTQ Tattooing in St. John’s.” I am interviewing both tattooed and non-tattooed LGBTQ individuals to collect narratives about tattoos as a way to better understand what it means to be LGBTQ in St. John’s. I attended tattooing events and Pride events throughout the summer and I am continuing to interview people. I will begin my analysis and writing of my thesis in the coming semester.
A supervisor can be key to the success of any grad student. What does your supervisor bring to their role as your advisor and mentor?
Dr. Robin Whitaker has been so supportive as my supervisor. She has helped me through many drafts of fellowship applications, research proposals, and ethics applications. Robin gives clear and thorough feedback and is very patient when I need further explanation, or when I give her the 15th draft of the same proposal. Her suggestions and recommendations are invaluable and her support during fieldwork continues to be extremely appreciated.
Are you involved in any organizations on-campus or off? If so, can you explain and detail such involvement?
I am a tutor at the Writing Centre. Although I am only there a few hours a week, I love the opportunity to help other graduate students with their writing. It allows me to see the diversity at Memorial and I feel like I am making a difference for other students. Additionally, I am a graduate assistant for Dr. Giwa in the School of Social Work.
What do you like most about being a graduate student at Memorial?
I really enjoy the freedom to explore my research interests, not only with my thesis, but in course work as well. Several assignments for my classes were rather open-ended, which allowed me to look at topics that I find compelling. As well, I live in the Battery Facility and I appreciate that there is a graduate student residence where I am able to have my own space to call home. The views aren’t too bad either.
What do you hope to do after completing your graduate degree?
After this degree, I hope to spend some time in the workforce. There are many avenues I could pursue with an anthropology degree, but I hope to take a position that will allow me to work with people. I am still considering a PhD, but I would spend a few years working before continuing my studies in anthropology.