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Anthropology and sociology major Jennifer Bennett ’03 (Gray, Maine) is helping to complete a manuscript on the phenomenon known as decolonization and is researching the return of colonists from various locations around the globe to Europe. The project, entitled “Europe’s Invisible Migrants: Consequences of the Colonists ‘Return’,” will result in the first English-language book on the subject.

A participant in the EXCEL Scholars program, Bennett is assisting Andrea Smith, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology.

“This is a relatively new topic in the anthropology of Europe,” says Smith. “Much has been written about the exodus of European colonists to Africa, Asia, and other places around the world, but there is little scholarly work completed about their return.”

Bennett is offering editorial and research assistance on the project.

“I have to look up dates pertaining to the colonization and decolonization of specific colonies: French, Portuguese, British, Dutch,” says Bennett. “I am also looking up maps that show colonies through time, assisting Professor Smith in the editing process by proofreading the manuscript, cross-referencing references, standardizing format, and asking questions pertaining to the content of the manuscript which I feel are unclear to me as a reader.”

Says Smith, “Jennifer is getting a great introduction to preparing manuscripts for publishers as well as learning about a new approach to European studies.”

Bennett, who is considering a career in publishing, is pleased to take a hands-on role in the process of preparing the book.

“I am thinking about obtaining a summer internship in a publishing house, and I feel that this will help me to do that. I am looking into publishing as a career possibility, though I am more interested in management, especially in retail, and the sociology side of my degree comes in handy there,” she says. “As an anthropology and sociology major, this work allows me to see the different avenues in which my degree can be applied. I can use it to help edit books as well as in history research.”

She adds, “It is exciting for me to think that I am involved in research that has not been done before, and that we are paving a new road.”

Regarding EXCEL, Bennett is thrilled to take part in a project of such depth.

“It is impressive that I, as an undergraduate, have this opportunity to work with a professor on this sort of project,” she says. “When I talk with my friends at other universities and tell them about my research, they mention that it is impossible for them to get involved in any type of research with a professor unless they are graduate students. The size of Lafayette as well as the deep sense of community allows me to really get involved in amazing projects like this one. Where else could I do something like this?”

She adds, “It is also nice to know that professors recognize that undergraduate students can do just as well if not better with research and that professors take the opportunity to utilize young minds that are eager to learn.”

A graduate of Yarmouth High School, Bennett is a member and leader of Lafayette Christian Fellowship, tour guide for the admissions office, and part of the costume crew for the Marquis Players, a student group that produces and performs an annual musical to raise money for hunger and homelessness causes.

Categorized in: Academic News