Working as a team, fourth-year sociology honours student Kayla Preston and sociology professor Gul Çaliskan recently had their research paper published in the academic journal Postcolonial Studies.
Titled “Tropes of Fear and the Crisis of the West: Trumpism as a Discourse of Post-Territorial Coloniality,” the paper stemmed from the seminar course Orientalism, Islamophobia, and Postcolonial Transgressions which focused postcolonial matters. While that course was in session, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.
“It was important to highlight that although [Trump’s] rhetoric is terrible, it’s not unusual. It’s something that is deeply systemically embedded in our society,” Preston said.
“This colonial rhetoric of othering must be highlighted. Although it’s terrible, it’s something that persisted before Trump and it will persist after Trump.”
The pair focused on the election of Trump because the topic is relevant in society and it was something that researchers were going to write about, so they wanted to be the first.
“Trump highlights a discourse, an ideology. It’s not Trump, it’s Trumpism,” Çaliskan said.
Çaliskan initially reached out to Preston shortly after Trump had been elected and by March of the following year, Preston had completed the first draft and presented it at the research and ideas fair.
“[Preston’s] critical thinking abilities really caught my attention,” Çaliskan said.
“It was important for me to really mentor Kayla in this case and help her to develop her intellectual depth in the area.”
Working as Çaliskan’s research assistant for the past two years, Preston was determined to work hard and make the paper a reality.
“This paper wasn’t something we were going to give up on. We were going to keep pressing until it got published,” Preston said.
The paper was submitted to the Postcolonial Studies Journal on June 3 and was accepted with minor revisions on July 31. After resubmitting on Aug. 14, the paper was officially published online on Sept. 17.
Preston decided to do her honours in sociology while still in her first year but she never expected to have a paper published before completing her undergrad.
“It’s unusual to be in your undergrad and to have a paper published in such a big academic journal so I never expected this to happen,” she said.
“I remember when I first saw the article and saw my name underneath of it, it almost brought me to tears. It was so overwhelming.”
Çaliskan stressed that it is important for professors to work with their students.
“We are a small liberal arts university and we heavily invest in our undergraduate students as faculty and I hope this is just an example of how we invest in our students in different ways,” Çaliskan said.
“This is truly a co-authored paper. [Preston] is truly an intellectual in the making.”
The pair have been receiving feedback from faculty at STU and the online version continues to gain more views everyday.
“Everyone has been very supportive [at STU] and excited about our article, so we have to thank them for that,” Preston said.
“I’m so grateful to Dr. Çaliskan for the opportunities she’s given me, but at STU you really do get the unique opportunity as an undergraduate to work with your professors and to really get to know your professors.”
The pair are still working together on another paper which will focus more on the decolonial co-resistance, where the last paper left off.
Çaliskan is currently working on an edited collection of articles about globalization and gender. Çaliskan and Preston will be writing the introduction for the book and they may possibly write a chapter together for the collection.
“For me, the most important aspect of this paper is that I can say that I published with my student,” she said.
“This is something I am really passionate about, really investing in my students and working with them because I was encouraged by my professors when I was a masters student, to pay it forward.”
After graduating from STU, Preston plans on attending graduate school to get her masters in sociology and then she would like to pursue a PhD.
When she completes her PhD, Preston hopes to return to STU to teach and continue to work with Çaliskan.
“We will continue to collaborate hopefully so it’s an investment for the both of us and I am very proud of Kayla,” Çaliskan said.
“I will always be very supportive of her and we will become colleagues very soon, in a few years. This is just the beginning.”