Alessandro Lucas Bautista

alessandro lb profile

UK BAME Studentship in the Humanities

Joining us from: Mexico and London

MSt Comparative Literature & Critical Translation (Chinese & Arabic)

I am half-British, half-Mexican (Mexican mother, English father), with a very international family. I was born in Mexico City and most of my family lives there, but I grew up around London (Welwyn/Stevenage) and embrace both sides of my heritage equally! I have always enjoyed learning about anything and everything, but I suppose I have always loved codes and puzzles (and therefore languages) above all else (except, perhaps, music). I have also been an avid reader for as long as I can remember - especially sci-fi, surrealism, horror and eg the works of Thomas Pynchon and Kurt Vonnegut.

Around sixth form I started dabbling in languages including Chinese, Hindi, Turkish and German to supplement my native Spanish and English, and the French I was taking at school. After a history trip with school to Moscow and St Petersburg, I decided to take Russian (Ab Initio) with French at Magdalen College, Oxford, and was successful in both my Prelims and Finals, becoming the college William Doncaster Scholar in French, and recipient of the faculty Andrew Colin and Gibbs prizes for best performance in the year for Russian and for Modern Languages as a whole.

On my year abroad I travelled extensively around Russia (including the Arctic for the Northern Lights, the Trans-Siberian, and camping on Lake Baikal) while studying in Yaroslavl, as well as Turkey and Uzbekistan. Around this time, I started teaching myself Arabic, aware on some level that I might like to bring it into my studies later. I lived in France for a couple of months, including studying a summer course at the Sorbonne. After graduation, I was certain that I wanted to return to Oxford, still focusing on language and literature, but also taking on a significant new challenge and exploring new areas of the world, exploring new languages etc. I landed on Chinese and Arabic, and intensified my self-study in order to be accepted for the MSt in Comp Lit & Critical Translation.

My research interests are various, but my main project this year will focus on sci-fi and speculative fiction in the aforementioned languages, and how they make manifest the uniqueness of their respective cultures and languages in expressing hopes, fears and vision of the future. I also hope this dissertation will serve a geopolitical purpose, allowing us to comprehend the motivations and priorities of these two enormously important but historically ‘alien’ areas of the world, which still remain rather poorly understood in the West.

I have many other interests! I like to write (and my debut short story was recently shortlisted for the Mogford Prize). I also absolutely love music of all kinds - I play guitar (classical, but also acoustic and electric) and piano, and write my own songs. I actually have three albums nearly finished, which just need recording! In the past, I have rowed for my college, played football, tennis and ice hockey, and reached a high belt in karate. On my own schedule, I am also an individual coach and mentor representing a Berlin-based consultancy firm (Stragilon), with past and current clients including the European Climate Foundation, Santander, Siemens and Pfizer.

Having taken my undergraduate degree at Magdalen for four years, it’s quite simply that I loved it here the first time around! I also liked the look of the CLCT course, flexible enough to allow me to take two relatively new (and very tough) languages as my options, which many universities' courses would not. In short, I wanted to return to the most intellectually-stimulating and all-round inspiring environment I could think of. In truth, I originally simply applied to return to Magdalen (and was accepted), but St Cross and the Humanities Division stepped in to offer me the scholarship, and I gladly accepted! Aside from the financial element, which has transformed my MSt year for the best, I am getting to experience a whole new side of Oxford, and a college very different to my undergrad college. I am loving it so far! It is sleek and modern while retaining the traditional Oxford college ‘vibe’, and cozy and friendly, with lots of opportunities to meet people and socialise. I also appreciate and enjoy how incredibly diverse St Cross is, in particular, as a college.

The scholarship has eased the financial burden of this year, which would have been very heavy. It is allowing me to focus on seizing the opportunities offered by the MSt and hopefully extend my project (on ‘Visions of the Future’ in Chinese and Arabic sci-fi and speculative fiction) as a DPhil to explore more languages and cultures and offer an exploration, very broad in scope, of speculative fiction across the world, to find out how it is manifested uniquely in different parts of the world, and - ideally - to discover what it might reveal about how the world ought best to cooperate to find global solutions to global problems, by way of understanding each other’s fundamental hopes and fears for the future. Above all, aside from my academic plans, I hope to succeed with my music and writing - I have always been drawn to the arts and to creating my own.