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With a dream to one day publish scholarly works of her own, Nangula Shejavali ’06 (Windhoek, Namibia) has been working with Andrea Smith, assistant professor of anthropology, to learn just what it takes to turn years of research into a book.

Shejavali, a double major in international affairs and Africana studies, first spoke with Smith last summer helping Smith with her new book Colonial Memory and Postcolonial Europe: Maltese Settlers in Algeria and France, forthcoming this summer from Indiana University Press. Since then, Shejavali has been reading related research to suggest background information and maps for inclusion in the book. After fact-checking the manuscript, Shejavali is currently working with Smith on proofreadinging the final page proofs.

Smith also is editor of Europe’s Invisible Migrants: Consequences of the Colonists’ Return, a book on a related topic published in 2003 by Amsterdam University Press. Through essays by prominent sociologists, historians, and anthropologists, the volume highlights the experiences of colonists returning to France, Portugal, and the Netherlands; the intersections of race, citizenship, and colonial ideologies; and the ways in which these migrations have reflected the return of the “colonial” to Europe.

Smith says, “Nangula is gifted with a curiosity for a great range of subjects and thus brings her own insights and ideas to every discussion. She is extremely bright and focused and has a remarkable attention to detail. She has been able to stay focused as we tackle some critical but less-interesting aspects of the fact-checking portions of our research.”

Shejavali is working with Smith through Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. Many of the 180 students who participate each year go on to publish papers in scholarly journals and/or present their research at conferences.

“This program provides a wonderful opportunity for students to experience real research – the tedious parts of sleuthing in the library as well as the exciting portions when ideas come together,” Smith says.

“One of the nice things about my experience is I learned about the process of having a scholarly book published,” says Shejavali, who plans to attend graduate school before launching a career writing scholarly works.

“I have been sharing with her copies of all of the letters I have received from the editor, copyeditor, and project manager, and have explained what they are looking for and how much freedom, or lack of freedom, I have in my response to them,” says Smith. “She is learning invaluable lessons that will serve her in the years to come.”

The chance to learn about the research process and partake in it has also been beneficial to Shejavali. “I feel like I have a better grasp of what it takes to be doing the proper research for scholarly work,” she says, explaining that knowing how to conduct research will not only be helpful in her coursework but in any situation where she needs to uncover information, such as in preparing for a job interview.

“Overall, the EXCEL program provides a really good experience in terms of any kind of research or information gathering,” says Shejavali.

During her extensive look into Smith’s anthropological interests, Shejavali picked up on a connection to her own interest in Africana studies. “I’ve been able to look at how African Americans identify with African culture after having been removed from the continent from which their heritage comes,” says Shejavali.

“Professor Smith is one of my favorite professors,” says Shejavali. “She’s really interested in the students’ learning. She makes sure that I’m interested in what I’m doing, so the experience is good for both of us.”

Shejavali is the president of International Students Association, founder and current member of ACACIA (Africans Creating African Consciousness and Interest Abroad), and a member of the Lafayette Leadership Institute organizing committee. She is also a head resident adviser and has worked in Skillman Library’s Special Collections and College Archives.

Categorized in: Academic News