Selected as a Winant Professor in 2020 during the pandemic, I had been looking forward to visiting Oxford for several years, and I was delighted to arrive in early October to sunny and uncharacteristically warm weather. Equally warm was my welcome to both RAI and Balliol College. Hannah, Katy, and Adam have been very kind and welcoming, and I have met some really impressive D.Phil. students, as well. I am living in Holywell Manor, an historic and, some say, haunted premises on Manor Road ideally located next to the Law School and the Politics and International Relations department. While I have not encountered any ghosts, I have been deeply embedded into the Oxford experience, ranging from freshers’ formal dinners to casual chats with interesting scholars from a wide range of disciplines. Dame Helen Ghosh, the Master of the College, gave me a warm personal welcome and I was delighted to sit and chat with her during my first formal dinner at high table my second night in Oxford. I’ve never had to take an oath to a college but I was pleased to make a pledge to Balliol College stating that “I will be true and faithful to the College, will observe its Statutes and by-laws and promote its interests and studies”.
Even though I have not had the chance to explore many of Oxford’s fine museums and historic colleges, I do look forward to doing so once the weather becomes more typical of Oxford winters. What I have been most impressed by is the spirit of interdisciplinarity both at RAI and Balliol. The Oxford model truly fosters such exchanges, which I think are excellent ways to not only enrich our own research but also provide different perspectives to those in fields far from our own. After a week here, I am delighted and cannot wait for the year ahead!