Name: Mathilde Kærgaard Skaaning
University: Humboldt University of Berlin
Research Title: Caring for a healthy neighbourhood. A sensory exploration of more-than-human health care in Reichenberger Kiez, Berlin, Germany.
Area of Research: Urban geography
This post is the fourth of a series of posts showcasing some of the amazing research projects from our community of Lateral pioneers.
What are you researching currently?
I am currently completing an M.A. degree in urban geography at Humboldt University of Berlin, and right now I am in the middle of writing my master’s thesis. The thesis is about a neighbourhood initiative called ‘Reichenberger Kiez für Alle’ (In English: Reichenberger Neighbourhood for Everyone) and how they are trying to create a better and healthier neighbourhood.
I argue that although urban life offers a multitude of benefits, it is not trouble-free. Urban populations experience numerous social and environmental problems that affect their health and well-being which have only been accentuated through the very present COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, new ways of understanding and improving urban life are needed. In the thesis, I build on existing ‘more-than-human’ theory and theories of ‘care’ to challenge the ontological limits of who or what can participate in care relations and whose health or well-being is a matter of care.
This intends to encapsulate understandings of the spatial praxis of care, the social relations of care receivers and givers, and the reflections on these doings and interactions. Moreover, as part of the thesis, I am making a short documentary film that intends to bridge the gap between ‘academia’ and ‘the real world’, but also to challenge and expand the limits of traditional research methods within the field of urban geography.
What is your #1 research tip?
Sometimes it can feel quite overwhelming to start a new project, so one of the most important things for me when starting a new research project is to break things down into smaller sections and create a clear structure. I always make a draft of the entire project before diving into the literature to ensure that I don’t steer too far off the course and spend unnecessary amounts of time on things that might be interesting but irrelevant to the project.
By having this draft or research plan, I also know exactly what needs to go into the different chapters or sections and I can therefore plan my time accordingly. Research is rarely a linear process and of course a plan or draft will need multiple revisions, but for me, having a rough overview of the research project makes everything seem less scary and overwhelming, and gives me a good starting point.
How does Lateral help you with your research?
As I said, breaking things down into smaller sections and creating an overview is key to me. Lateral is such a helpful tool for me in this process, as I can list the different concepts I will be needing for my research project and thereby create this overview. Especially, when doing a bigger research project, such as a dissertation or master’s thesis, I find this very useful!
Additionally, there is no way around reading through massive amounts of literature when doing research. In that process, I am especially fond of Lateral’s document viewer as it allows me to highlight text and organise the snippets into the different concepts that I have created. Lateral even suggests other relevant snippets which makes it a lot easier to find connections or contrasts within the literature.
Furthermore, Lateral saves me a lot of time while writing by not having to jump between the document I am writing in and different articles and books, as I can export a file with the already organised concepts and snippets afterwards and add them directly to my document.