08 October 2020

My UEA Story: Nathania Atkinson

Name: Nathania Atkinson

School: Art, Media and American studies

Research area: PhD in American Studies

Bio: My research looks at the Social Political Economic and Cultural navigation of Mobility, Positionality, and Power for Black Female Creative Entrepreneurs of the Caribbean diaspora, as single mothers living in the U.K. with some comparison to other transatlantic spaces. Specifically it aims to formulate an actionable framework that analyses the complex web of intersectionality as it pertains to Race, Gender, motherhood, entrepreneurship and cultural identity in “white spaces”. In the future I want to both lecture in Caribbean and cultural studies on an international level possibly as a recurring guest lecturer. But ultimately I want to be a legislature advocating for law s and policy around migration and Caribbean diaspora socio-economic and cultural politics and ecosystems in Transatlantic spaces.

What is life as a postgraduate student at UEA like? Describe a typical day

Postgraduate life at UEA has been great I am fortunate enough to have a supportive and engaged supervision team, who sign post me to any service for any needs I may have as well as have regular communication.

As I live almost 4 hours away from campus, my trips to campus are less frequent. However a typical day for me starts with the school run as I am a mother, then a workout, then roughly 4 hours reading or writing, researching, brainstorming etc. Then back to the school run, home cook spend time with my daughter and then another 4 hours of developing what I had been working on in the day. In addition some days may also include some freelance work. 

Why did you choose UEA?

I chose UEA as I completed my Masters degree here with distinction. I had a great course leader, and was pushed to reach my full potential continuously, my confidence was built and I developed clarity even while going through the passing of my father. 

Any tips for choosing a project / supervisor?

Tips for choosing a supervisor, find one you feel you can be your most honest and vulnerable with. I’m quite a reserved person but there’s nowhere to hide when you’re on a postgraduate programme, life happens and everything you write, create, think of will be put to the test of knowledge, rigor, excellence and innovation. So you need to be comfortable with your team to know they not only have your best interest at heart, but also have the knowledge, wisdom and expertise to guide and support you through the program.

Tips for picking a project: make sure it is something you are passionate about, willing to sacrifice for and continuously peaks your personal and professional interest, because it will get hard and at times it will be testing but passion and long term vision will keep you going.

How is postgraduate study different to undergraduate study?

The ability to manage your time as an independent learner, a professional, while seeking knowledge and opportunity along a journey only you know.

What’s the social side like? How do you find the Postgraduate community?  

I haven’t been able to be as involved in the postgraduate community as I would have liked to, due to my reality of living further away and being a mother, but I am open to socialise when it is possible. 

What has most surprised you about your postgraduate study at UEA?   

How much both my research and I have evolved from starting to now being halfway through. Growth.  

Any highlights of your experience?  

A fantastic highlight was having the opportunity to both present and moderate at the National Association of African American Studies conference in Texas as well as have a paper published. This definitely opened my eyes to how many opportunities there are in Caribbean studies and for black women in academia.

What kind of activities you have got involved with at UEA (e.g. networks, conferences, events, outreach) that have helped your research?   

In addition to the Texas conference opportunity, I have been scouted for and presented an online session for Caribme Magazine based in New York, around living as a part of the Caribbean diaspora and what cultural identity and politics looks like. I have hosted an online seminar for generational wealth and distribution, womanism and entrepreneurship in Black communities. And I have authored a journal/book with my daughter that provides an opportunity for mothers with teen daughters to build relationships. I have also presented as part of the chase feminist network and Chase BAME researchers symposium. 

What is writing your thesis or preparing for a viva like (if you’ve got there yet!)  

Writing my thesis is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. Just because you want to make a real contribution to new knowledge, you want to excel academically, you’re busy and you also want to be honest and candid. The process can take a lot out of you writing and re writing but the challenge is amazing. After each chapter is written or idea developed you will witness your growth.  

What would you say to someone thinking of coming to UEA?  

I have had a great experience, and I believe if you know you're ready and thoroughly look into your supervision team as well as being honest with yourself and your vision, UEA will help you thrive.  


School of Art, Media, & American Studies