Student grant recipients to showcase their work
Published: Monday, October 7, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 7, 2013 22:10
On Oct. 23, the Office of Undergraduate Research will showcase the scholarly work of undergraduate researchers by displaying student-made posters.
One of the students whose research will be exhibited is seventh-semester English and Spanish Literature double major, Krisela Karaja, who spent the spring 2013 semester researching under a Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Research Experience (SHARE) grant.
Karaja’s research focused on the importance of Latin American and Latino trans-national war and violence narratives. In simpler terms, Karaja researched the importance of how war and violence, as theme, is portrayed in literature and film in Latin America. Under the mentorship of Professor Guillermo Irizarry, Karaja had the opportunity to sharpen her research skills by helping Irizarry conduct his own research for his upcoming book on the same subject.
“My assistance was meant to symbolically lighten his load while, perhaps most importantly, teaching me how to go about conducting literary research by accumulating and sifting through periodicals, articles, books necessary for the research process,” Karaja said.
Using her SHARE grant, Karaja focused her research on Guatemala by looking at the lives of Guatemalan and Guatemalan-American writers such as Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Francisco Goldman and Luis de Lion. Aside from researching these authors, Karaja’s research consulted a number of works that discuss how people react to violence and war.
Judith Baker’s text “Frame of War” was particularly inspiring to Karaja’s work.
“In Frames of War, Judith Butler contemplates why some lives are ‘grievable’ whereas other lives are more precarious and less ‘grievable’ because we do not even recognize them as ‘lives’ to begin with,” Karaja said. “Reading this text was jarring, yet I am so thankful that I was able to read it because I am now much more critical of the way in which the mainstream media portrays, or rather, ‘frames’ wars and conflicts around the world, the Middle East included.”
While Karaja’s research centered on war and violence in Latin America, its ramifications for understanding war and conflict on a more global level are important.
“It is imperative that we study war and violence in our day and age because the repercussions of them tend to plague not just the victims themselves, but entire nations, national memory and several subsequent generations,” Karaja said.
Furthermore, Karaja emphasized that such understanding will help internal problems as well, such as tackling issues related to immigration and political refugees.
“It is important to understand the repercussions of war and violence because we—particularly immigrant groups, many of which come to the US as a result of war, violent regimes—deal with these repercussions on a daily basis,” said Karaja.
Karaja hopes that her experience researching will be a solid foundation for her goal of obtaining a doctorate in U.S ethnic literature and says that the experience as a whole was invaluable.
“I absolutely recommend that other students get involved in research in their respective fields—be it in the sciences or in the humanities. Research teaches you how to think critically and to problem solve,” Karaja said. “You have the skill set necessary to go about finding your own answers. That’s a powerful thing, because not all students are taught to do this. If you know how to do this, then you know how to guide your own education. That’s the most valuable thing of all.”