UCL History Congratulates Oana Borlea-Stancioi on her Prize-winning MA in Social Anthropology

19 February 2024

Read about the impressive academic journey of one of UCL History's star Professional Services staff.

Rural image with a cow, tree and some huts

Oana, Nahrein Network Administrator and PA to the Head of Department, has recently completed her MA in Social Anthropology, receiving a Distinction and the Pat Kaplan Prize for Best Dissertation - 'Isolated and/or remote - perceptions and perspectives on a Romanian mountain village'.

Oana initially trained in archaeology and developed a love of hiking during her undergraduate years. A few years back, on a mid-winter hike, she found herself in the area that eventually became the subject of her MA and now PhD. When one group member felt unwell, they stopped in the hamlet, and Oana knocked on the door of one of the residents, hoping for a cup of tea for her feverish colleague. Befriending the family that answered, she saw behind the scenes of an 'isolated' village. Her first emotion was nostalgia, and Oana describes an image of "your Eastern European granny's house" - no hot water or central heating, a captured stream delivering water to the whole village and traditional embroidered tea towels hung on the corners of the room. She began as, in her words, "your stereotypical, wide-eyed tourist looking for something 'authentic'" but came to appreciate the complexity of perceived remote areas and began her journey from archaeology to anthropology.

Oana has now secured a place on a PhD programme at the School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, under the supervision of Dr Matthew Hodges (also a Goldsmiths' alum and himself once (temporarily) supervised by Pat Kaplan!) She plans to develop her dissertation project by taking a more in-depth look at life in the hamlet and potentially bringing in a second fieldwork location. As part of her research, Oana hopes to learn how the inhabitants relate to the spaces and their associated labels and listen to the lived experiences of those dwelling in perceived remote areas. She will also consider how the communist era influences the perception of rural communities over the 'more desirable' urban ideal. It will be unique and important work as while several fantastic researchers study Eastern Europe, far fewer look at Romania specifically.

Huge congratulations again on your achievements so far, Oana. We wish you the best of luck with your PhD!