Margaret Comer : Gates Cambridge Scholarship Recipient
Margaret graduated from U.C. Berkeley in 2012 with a B.A. in Anthropology. She then went on to study for an MPhil at Cambridge and has been recently awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, to pursue a Ph.D. In her own words, "As a child of archaeologists, I was surrounded by material culture and immaterial pasts, but I was also fascinated by politics from an early age. While studying abroad in Moscow and Copenhagen, I became intrigued by uses (and abuses) of the material past in the service of nationalism, which led to my undergraduate thesis on politically motivated displays of human remains in national museums. However, while pursuing my MPhil, I was drawn to studying the heritage of repression, especially as such traumatic legacies are publicly and privately expressed or silenced before and after major regime changes. My dissertation focused on changing interpretations of repression before and after 1991 in the Solovetsky Islands, Russia, the site of the gulag system’s first labor camp. In my doctoral research, I hope to study patterns of change over time in interpretation and expression of memory at a wider array of sites related to Soviet-era repression and, further, connect these patterns of change in memorialization and commemoration to concurrent changes in political regimes and wider attitudes towards identity and civil or human rights. Interests: Dark heritage, dissonant pasts, museums, the ethics of display and interpretation, Slavic languages, walking, wandering, the ocean, the Olympics, pubs, adorable small animals."