Photo of Dr Maria Thomas

Dr Maria Thomas

Public engagement

Between May 2012 and June 2013 I worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Nottingham on the AHRC-funded research and dissemination project ‘Women and Independence in Latin America’ (PI Professor Catherine Davies, www.genderlatam.org.uk). The project addressed the contemporary significance of women’s involvement in the nineteenth-century Latin American Wars of Independence. We worked to disseminate the project’s research findings beyond the boundaries of the academic community. As the project coordinator, I worked closely with our community partners, the Museo de La Mujer in Buenos Aires, the London-based Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) and Southwark Council.

In September 2012 I travelled to Buenos Aires to collaborate with the Museo de la Mujer in the ‘Libertadoras’ programme, a month long series of cultural events (plays, discussion groups, workshops, exhibitions and guided tours) on the theme of the contemporary relevance of women’s contribution to processes of independence in Latin America. Through LAWRS, I worked extensively with a group of young Latin American female migrants from Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. They participated in a series of drama workshops on the theme of the Libertadoras and in a photography project which asked them to address concepts of freedom, independence and liberation.  This collaboration resulted in a photographic exhibition at the New Art Exchange gallery in Nottingham and another at Southwark Council. As part of the Southwark Council’s work with the Latin American Community, I planned, coordinated and delivered a series of language and cultural exchange workshops for Latin Americans and council employees between April and June 2013.

I was also involved in Widening Participation initiatives at Nottingham. These included a translation workshop based on information from the Women and Independence database, which my colleagues and I delivered to GCSE and A-Level students from local schools. We also organised a taster visit the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at Nottingham for the young Latin American women from LAWRS.

I am enthusiastic about using new media to disseminate research within the non-academic community and also to discover new information and perspectives. I am also interested in the ways in which new media can become a vehicle for historical memory.  As part of the Women and Independence project, I developed and curated a series of electronic resources. Between 2006 and 2007 I worked in the New Media department of The History Channel UK. I am also a regular editorial contributor to the history website Historvius. Recently, I collaborated with Google, curating the Google Cultural Institute’s Spanish Civil War exhibit (http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/?hl=enGB#!exhibit:exhibitId=QRWI5SN-&position=0,4