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History and Politics Personal Statement

History interests me greatly, especially on a geopolitical level, and has helped me to understand the motivations behind events in this period of global uncertainty and rapid change. Constructing sound arguments and using a variety of different interpretations in the analysis of a historical excerpt is a key part of studying History and is something that I believe I can do well and enjoy in the process.

One particular area of history which captivates me is the rich and often turbulent history of the Balkans. Serbia has in the past been vilified for its actions, particularly in the 1990s and not without justification, but in the interest of a balanced historical argument it is necessary to look at the views of all sides.

To this end I have read Tim Judah’s ‘The Serbs’ which provides an engaging chronology and focuses on aspects such as the formation of the Serbian identity to the arrest and conviction of Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadžić whilst also providing Bosnian and Croatian viewpoints.

It was thought-provoking to read about how myths created from tales of Serbia’s past were used by politicians such as Slobodan Milošević to serve their agendas.

I recently listened to a BBC ‘Law In Action’ podcast which was originally broadcast following Radovan Karadžić’s sentencing regarding the origins and the differences between the terms ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’, distinctions which have their place in historical as well as legal debate.

I am currently reading Richard J. Evans’ ‘The Coming of the Third Reich’ to build upon my ongoing studies of the social and political situation in Germany prior to the ascension of Hitler to power.

Evans explores the growth of Anti-Semitism in Germany from pre-WW1 to Hitler’s ascension and the evocative primary sources he cites, help to provide a clearer image of how people felt as events unfolded.

Of particular interest were the details surrounding the development of feminism in Germany and the way feminist organisations reacted to the growth of the Nazi party, as well as his exploration of the German reaction to foreign influences over their culture such as the impact of jazz music. I have become increasingly interested in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the history of Iran and follow news articles and analysis from a wide range of sources.

In English Literature I have researched the contexts in which the books I have studied were written. Reading the poetry of Christina Rossetti provides an idea of the female experience in the Victorian Era while Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ explores ideas surrounding post-Civil War America from immigration to the literary heritage of the Deep South, particularly through the character of the ‘Southern belle’. George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is iconic in its exploration of themes such as censorship and surveillance influenced by the totalitarian regimes of Orwell’s day, particularly Josef Stalin’s Communist Russia and Hitler’s Germany.

The dystopian novel remains relevant to this day and has had a significant cultural impact of its own. Business Studies aids in better understanding the financial side of historical events such as the workings of the Bretton Woods system. I believe that language skills and experiencing different cultures are helpful to any historian and I enjoy engaging in both. My stay in Dubai for 8 years has helped shape my understanding of Islam and life in an Islamic nation beyond some of the views presented in the media.

My study of both Spanish and Japanese allows me to learn different interpretations of current events through reading articles in their native languages.

This has led me to read Japanese articles to understand more about their perspectives on the ongoing dispute over islands in the South China Sea; I use my Spanish to follow events regarding issues which interest me such as negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC. I aspire to work with an international organisation like the UN or with the UK Foreign Office and History can help me achieve this goal.

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I feel pretty happy about this personal statement.

This statement helped get me offers from:
University of Cambridge
London School of Economics and Political Science
King's College London
University of Southampton
University of Exeter

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