Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Sania Shah

Political editor

Hello, I am currently a second year International Relations student at the University of Exeter. I hope to start my Erasmus year in Venice this September, the city’s political and cultural heritage is something I look forward to exploring.

Though my interest in politics was cultivated throughout my teenage years, it was whilst visiting the Sisi Museum in Vienna, that I realised I wanted to study the subject at a higher level. In the museum, I encountered an intricate porcelain set called the ‘Green Bands Service;’ a gift from the French Monarch to the Habsburg Empress in the 18th century. I came to know that these dishes triggered a diplomatic revolution of far-reaching consequence. It was in that moment, standing before these seemingly insignificant artifacts, that I first became aware of the profound impact small acts could send through time. How could a dinner set develop into a diplomatic revolution? What was the political climate at such a time? Was it really as fragile an atmosphere as the porcelain that salvaged the Habsburg-Bourbon association?

At the same time, though Europe’s devastating Wars of Succession are definitively for the
moment, over, I have grown up in a world that has seen the emergence of new diplomatic
hotspots across the globe. I have witnessed these from vantage points of varying proximity, and have seen them transform seemingly overnight into untenable war zones within which diplomacies have clearly collapsed. Why are the Rohingya stateless everywhere? What were the drivers of the latest Iraq War? What resulted in today’s Yemen, bleeding broken and unrecoverable in a time where there are many more brokers for peace than there were perhaps when Louis XV offered Maria Theresa a tentative olive branch in the form of an exquisitely crafted dinner set. It is through my exposure to today’s conflicts that I realised that international relations are in essence driven by the interpretation of a past that is still active in the present, thus stemming my interest in both history and politics.

Due to the dynamic nature of politics, I believe it is naive to wholly support a single ideology. So despite having inherently leftist ideals, I try to actively adjust my political views in accordance to the political climate. I am a firm believer in the fact that history and politics alike can only be accessed through the coexistence of multiple sources; that at best facts can only be partial. It is for this reason I am incredibly excited to be working as an editor for Point of Information as it will allow me to enrich my political perspective by reading and editing writing from across the political spectrum.

Pronouns: she/her