Kristina Molin Cherneski

Introduce yourself...

I am a PhD candidate in History. I hold degrees in Political Science from the University of Alberta and Public Policy from Queen's University. I worked for 10 years in the non-profit and private sectors, before returning to school to complete a master's degree in Modern British and European History at Oxford University. I came home to Canada in 2015 to work on my PhD, which I hope to defend this year.

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

I am researching the history of privacy in 19th-century Britain. I hope to understand what "keeping oneself to oneself" looked like for people that don't appear to us as though they had any privacy; those who lived in other people's houses, serving them, or were poor and lived in communal situations. I hope to understand better how people expressed themselves as individuals and protected their privacy even when they had little control over their lives and spaces.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

The 3MT challenged me to reconnect with what I think is interesting and challenging about my research—how we can explore facets of the past that aren't recorded directly, how we can connect with people's thoughts and feelings and experiences over the gaps of time and the sparse records they left behind.

What inspires you to do research?

The sheer privilege of constantly learning.

What are three keywords important to your 3MT?

history, privacy, and the everyday

How has your research changed during COVID-19?

Rather than spending time at the archives, among other historians and people who are curious about the past, I am alone with my computer, appreciating all the work people have done to digitize records and make it easier for us all to reach out to the past. I miss the interaction with colleagues and mentors and the actual documents (there is nothing like holding a piece of paper in your hands that hasn't been read for 150 years, written in beautiful handwriting on watermarked paper—the dust alone is memorable!), but the work over decades that archives and libraries have done to digitize is monumental and has made my work this year possible.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

It sounds a bit grandiose, I think, but probably the women whose words I've been reading for years now, the women who left records, however small and fleeting, that have allowed me to trace a small aspect of their lives and try to understand what life was like for them. I'm glad they wrote things down.