Seven questions with... Mie Astrup Jensen

UCL PhD candidate Mie Jensen
UCL PhD candidate Mie Jensen

This week we meet Mie, a PhD candidate in Gender & Sexuality Studies and Hebrew & Jewish Studies. Mie is actively involved with EDI work, queer pedagogy, and Jewish LGBTQ+ community work. Here we chat Lego, London and city spots for indulgent hot chocolate.

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I am a PhD Candidate in Gender & Sexuality Studies and Hebrew & Jewish Studies and I’m researching lesbian, bisexual, and queer Jewish women’s lived experiences and practices in England and Israel.

I have a longstanding interest in intersections between gender, sexuality, and religion. The defining moment for me researching LGBTQ+ religion was going to Jerusalem Pride in 2019 and Pride Shabbat service in a synagogue the following day. I experienced LGBTQ+ identities and lives in a city that is holy to Abrahamic religions. I noticed that a lot of the conversations on LGBTQ+ people and religious/spiritual/cultural identities were about LGBTQ+ people and not by LGBTQ+ people. So, I decided to research how non-heterosexual Jewish women themselves live and experience their lives.

The dream is definitely to become an academic. I love researching, teaching, and being involved with various EDI initiatives. I also really value community ties and contributing to public knowledge exchange.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

I just won funding with Dr Cathy Elliott to research and develop a Queer Pedagogy initiative! I’m very excited about this as we’ll apply queer pedagogy to work on developing ways to make classrooms, teaching materials, and curriculums more LGBTQ+ friendly and affirming. It’s a fascinating project that will feed into the Arena Centre, EDI committees, and hopefully numerous departments.

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

I’ve been at UCL since September 2020, so my physical campus experiences are unfortunately still limited... But I really having a drink in the courtyard of the Waterstones across campus.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

1. Attend an outdoor theatre performance in London during summer (some are performed in parks!);

2. Explore Shoreditch. Check out the street art while drinking a hot chocolate from Dark Sugars and then have a meal at Delamina East;

3. Take advantage of all the museum options. There’s something for everyone!

What’s one thing you’d like to see in a post-Covid world?

The continued enjoyment and use of outdoor spaces. It made me so happy to see park birthdays and celebrations over the spring and summer. Rather than going to restaurants over summer, my friends and I sometimes ordered the food to go or bought a meal deal, packed a blanket, and ate it in parks or by the Thames.

Who inspires you and why?

I’ve met, read about, and listened to so many incredible and inspiring individuals over the years who have shaped me, guided me, and helped me, so it is difficult to pinpoint one or two people or organisations. At present, I feel very inspired by my participants. The way they navigate and live their lives and their contributions to socio-cultural and religious changes and transformations is inspiring to hear, and constantly affirm that I am on the right path.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I really got into model building during the pandemic. I build and paint vehicles (aeroplanes, cars, motorcycles, and ships) from scratch - taking anything from 35-55 hours to make each. It’s a way for me to really relax, and I now have a bookcase full of models and Lego.