1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role as Lecturer in Philosophy?
Yes, of course! I joined Royal Holloway in the Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy department in January 2020, so given the pandemic it has been an unusual start. I teach modules on Logic, Metaphysics, and Race, Gender, and Queer Philosophy, which reflect my broad research interests. I have also been working on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion committees at the departmental, school, college, and union levels, as these are areas I feel very passionately about. I run a Women in Philosophy Support group as a long-standing executive committee member for the Society for Women in Philosophy, and am co-organising their annual conference with John Sellars on 28-29th June 2022 on ‘Early Women Philosophers in London’. Also, and more imminently, on the 14th October 2021, we welcome the Minorities and Philosophy co-directors to the department to give us a talk on their ‘Map for the Gap’. If anyone is interested in these events and initiatives then they are very welcome to contact me on suki.finnrhul.ac.uk
2. What inspired your research focuses in the areas of metametaphysics, the metaphysics of pregnancy, the epistemology of logic, and feminist and queer theory?
My career began in the technical abstract world of metaphysics (as a study of reality) and logic (as a study of reasoning). I am drawn to these areas because they seem to get to the very heart of philosophical puzzles, in that I find many problems can boil down to something metaphysical or logical. I love how basic and fundamental logic is, because it underwrites all argument, no matter what the argument is about. Without logic, there would be no way to philosophise about anything! And with metaphysics being the study of reality, the topic seems to cover everything! But steadily my focus shifted towards more social issues, where I could apply the technical skills of metaphysics and logic to topics such as pregnancy, love, queer theory, and feminist issues. I have published most substantially on pregnancy, where I researched whether the foetus is a part of, or contained by, the gestator, and what this relationship might mean for reproductive rights and assisted reproductive technologies. My academic publications can be found on Academia and PhilPeople, and some of my more popular philosophy can be found in the magazine Aeon.
3. You are also a researcher in Royal Holloway’s Gender Institute. What were your motivations for joining and what do you hope to achieve through your involvement?
I am very glad to be involved with the Gender Institute, set up by my department colleague and friend, Laura Sjoberg. The Gender Institute looks to become a hub for study, teaching, learning, and activism about gender and sexuality, and I am hoping to contribute to this in a few ways. Firstly, to protect our stakeholders by helping to develop and implement a clear policy prohibiting staff-student sexual/romantic relationships; secondly, by helping to create and teach on a postgraduate Masters programme entitled ‘Gender Studies and Philosophy’ which we hope will be launched in September 2022; thirdly, by supporting early career women (like myself!) in applying for promotion through running workshops with more experienced and senior women in the College (such an event will be held on Monday 8th November 2021, please contact Laura Sjoberg for details).
4. You recently edited a book entitled ‘Women of Ideas’, and following this will be discussing challenging the status quo in the typically male-dominated world of philosophy with three other writers at the upcoming Cheltenham Literature Festival. What are you most looking forward to at this event?
I am quite nervous for the panel at the Cheltenham Literature Festival – it has sold out! But I am looking forward to it too. Thanks for featuring it in the staff newsletter! The book ‘Women of Ideas’ published with Oxford University Press is an edited collection of Philosophy Bites interviews and I am glad to be joined on the panel at the festival by a couple of the contributors to the book, Amia Srinivasan and Kate Kirkpatrick, as well as ‘Philosopher Queens’ editor Lisa Whiting. It will be great to share the experience with them, and to share experiences of being a woman in philosophy with them. I am also looking forward to promoting my forthcoming book, ‘What’s in a Doughnut Hole? And other philosophical food for thought’ published by Icon, which will be an illustrated pop-philosophy guide to puzzles and paradoxes through stories about food. I am very grateful to Riona Roy, a previous student of mine and current postgraduate here at Royal Holloway, who was my research assistant for this book through the Summer Research and Education Placements.
5. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway?
I feel it is an honour to work at an institution which is historically rooted in social justice. With its proud legacy of pioneering women’s education, I look forward to seeing some real progress with our gender pay gap and other inequalities with respect to protected characteristics, especially race, at the staff and student level.
6. How do you like to spend your free time outside of work?
It is well documented that staff have a very high workload which results in little ‘free time’. I try to maintain a work-life balance by turning off the computer at a certain hour, in order to protect evenings and weekends for socialising and music (though I am not always successful with this)! I enjoy listening, analysing, playing, and making many forms of music. My main instruments are the piano, violin, and tuned percussion, but I also sing and love dancing. I compose and produce ambient electronic music with a handpan (also known as hangdrum), which is signed to Universal and Ninja Tune Production Music where it is available for sync and downloading, and can be streamed on Soundcloud. Thank you for your interest!