Seven Questions with...Keir Chauhan
1 June 2023
This week we meet BA History student Keir Chauhan, who recently represented UCL through a research poster display at the Houses of Parliament. Here, he chats to us about visiting the House of Lords and his favourite London sites.
What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I am studying for a BA in History and have just finished my second year. I am interested in history because it intersects with so much of the world around us. The range of choices a history degree offers to explore other subjects and disciplines helped me decide to study it over geography. I am super happy with my decision and have really enjoyed my degree, especially the intersections between environmental and geographical histories and the history of knowledge. The idea of the Anthropocene has also been instrumental in my decision to study it. I've found some truly great history modules, but also, interesting geography and anthropology modules as well. In the future, I hope to do a Master’s degree that allows me to continue learning and creating new knowledge in my historical areas of interest.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen, or got involved with while at UCL?
Posters in Parliament 2023 (pictured above) would have to be my highlight so far during my studies at UCL. I was invited by UCL to represent them through a research poster display at the Houses of Parliament. It was a fantastic day out, first visiting the House of Lords and then later presenting at Portcullis House. I met loads of interesting academics and fellow students, and got to talk about research I am passionate about. In this case, the racialised portrayal of Indigenous Americans in European Enlightenment mapping and how the natural world was manipulated to fit imperial aims. It represented a culmination of amazing opportunities that I had while being at UCL, from the UCL Laidlaw Scholarship to learning from brilliant academic supervisors and lecturers.
Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?
The Senate House. I know it’s not really hidden, but I really regret waiting until my second year to visit. It's truly the best place to study.
Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:
- Hampstead Heath, it’s got a bit of everything history, views, and nature. Would recommend checking out the Pergola.
- The Natural History Museum, I grew up in London and that place was my favourite to visit growing up.
- I also recommend going to the Houses of Parliament to see the Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs). The building is an architectural marvel.
What’s one thing you’d like to see in a post-Covid world?
More appreciation of complexity. History has taught me the importance of constantly reassessing angles. I feel that a multidisciplinary approach to tackling the separation of the human from the natural world is needed, particularly in the current state of nature.
Who inspires you and why?
So many people, but especially my grandparents. My grandparents who came to the UK from India (Ma and Dada) have inspired me. It was a real honour to present research at Warwick University for WorldCUR2023, where my grandfather used to be the postman. My grandfather from my Welsh roots worked hard to earn his PhD and look after his family with my amazing Dutch grandma. So, I feel this sense of duty and inspiration to make them proud and bring about meaningful changes to the world – whether through research or other projects. Family is very important to me.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I suffer from imposter syndrome, but, if anything, it drives me rather than holds me back. I was a very anxious student when I was in secondary school and sixth form. I really lacked confidence in myself. I think that sort of contrasts with what I am like now. Where I have more confidence in who I am and what I can do. Yet, I think it’s important to recognise because it wasn’t until I consistently challenged myself that I really got over that lack of confidence.