Heather is a second-year PhD student at the History Department of University of Hull. Her doctoral research ‘Bridging the Divide: The Language of Diplomacy in Early America 1701-1774’ focuses of the nature of intercultural diplomacy and communication between the British and the Iroquois during the eighteenth century. Heather’s thesis aims to address the interpretative imbalance stemming from alphabetic text being considered superior tao, and privileged over, other forms of communication. Reading treaty documents against the grain, and as evidence of multicultural negotiation, the thesis demonstrates the centrality of symbolic, material and performative forms of communication to diplomatic interactions between Native and non-Native peoples. Overall, her research illustrates how European and indigenous cultures, which have often been perceived as being radically different from one another, had many similar elements of language which permitted cross-cultural understanding.
Heather recently applied to become a host for destitute refugees with a local charity, Assist, and is currently awaiting her first guest. She and her partner have also volunteered for Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline for the past four years; hosting two Belarusian children, whose families have suffered due to the Chernobyl disaster, and come to England for a health visit.
At conferences in London and Toronto she has presented on the indigenous use of metaphorical language as an expression of sovereignty. Rachel has also co-written a paper for UNESCO which contributes to the discussion concerning the importance of indigenous language preservation.