Interview with Dr Yosha Wijngaarden who recently defended her PhD!

Yosha Wijngaarden defended her PhD titled: ‘Places of co-working: Situating innovation in the creative industries’. In this interview, Yosha reflects on her journey and updates us on her current engagements. 

Rashid: Yosha, you have recently completed your PhD and received the title that we all strive for; my sincere congratulation! Could you please share with us what the PhD journey was like for you?

Yosha: Thanks, Rashid! I am incredibly happy to finally have obtained the title, absolutely! Though PhD journeys are often described as ‘bumpy’ or ‘challenging’, I do not remember mine as such. After a year, there was a plan. I followed the plan, more or less. Of course, there were challenges. Having a baby during a PhD is awesome, but balancing changing diapers and reflecting upon your epistemological considerations takes some practice. Adding two additional empirical chapters just because I had (in my opinion) great new ideas is awesome, but having to integrate those while also writing the introduction and conclusion in five weeks verges on masochism. Luckily, I have great colleagues and friends who have been of tremendous help in putting everything together, making sense of my sloppy grammar and elegantly endured my complaints. So, yes, it’s done, and I must admit, that moment when you open your first box of books is quite unforgettable (as is the moment when you notice your first printed typo).

Rashid: That’s funny! May I ask about that important moment right before you were assigned the “Dr” title? What was it like to bring all these experiences, challenges, opportunities and discoveries to a culmination in the defence? 

Yosha: Well, to be honest, it was nerve-wracking! I always praised myself for being quite stress-proof, but evidently, I need to revisit this assumption. I only now appreciate the layman’s speech our university requests (which is not the case for some other Dutch universities), as it allows you to take control over the situation – at least for fifteen minutes. About halfway through the questions, I actually started to enjoy the conversation with the committee. But what I remember most vividly is the moment after Hora Est – when the committee leaves to discuss the candidate’s defence. While I was surrounded by my friends/colleagues/paranymphs Anouk, Rian and Simone and – presumably – discussed the questions and defence in general, I suddenly realised I was done. This huge task that had driven me for six years was over. I remember the world suddenly getting some The Matrix-like properties – as a video in slow-motion. Absolutely fascinating! After that, my brain shut off, so I only have faint memories of actually receiving the degree, shaking some hands and drinking some beer at the reception, and having Indian food (my favourite) with the committee, my supervisors and some colleagues. But, as we would say in Dutch: “gelukkig hebben we de foto’s nog”.[1]

Rashid:  Andwhat do you do now that it’s all over?

Yosha: Luckily, not much has changed, except for my title. Since September 2019, I have been working as a postdoc at the Arts and Culture Studies department, together with Ellen Loots on an Instituut Gak funded project. We aim to gain in-depth and up-to-date insights into the income position and earning capacity of the creative sector in the Netherlands by addressing a number of questions. We all know this image of a "vulnerable and disadvantaged" sector, but is this also true? And if so, to what extent, and why? Which opportunities (and threats) can we expect from new practices and business models? For example, I am now working on a sub-project on cooperatives. This is a super exciting extension of my PhD research, in which I studied the effects of the physical proximity of creatives (e.g. in co-working spaces) on their innovativeness and professional development. I’m also still teaching some courses (both in M&C and ACS) and supervising MA theses – which is great!


[1] Luckily, we still have the pictures