Undergraduate Research

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Mirusha Yogarajah

Mirusha Yogarajah
African and African Diaspora Studies, and Government, Liberal Arts Honors
“The greatest reward is being able to personally learn new things and understand who I am as a result.”

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Eric Tang, African and African Diaspora Studies and Center for Asian American Studies

Please tell us a little bit about your research project.

My research project is called From Tigresses to Panthresses: An Analysis of Paternalism in Radical Organized Politics. This project aims to understand the roles of female revolutionary fighters in the Black Panther Party in the United States and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka. My argument is that the demise of these two organizations was due to the repression of female actors.

How did you decide that you wanted to pursue research?

I knew that the AADS had amazing avenues to pursue research topics that interested me. I was lucky enough to do some research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Bluefields, Nicaragua. After those two opportunities, I realized I loved conducting ethnographic research in these spaces, and I noticed that there were transnational similarities between the black populations.

How did you get involved with your current research project?

My parents are from Sri Lanka and I had always heard about the LTTE from a young age. I took it upon myself to go research and understand the role that the organization played. After reading Assata: An Autobiography, I noticed that women were fundamental to the Black revolutionary struggle in America, and thus I wanted to compare the roles that women played in both.

Do you see your research connecting with your plans for your future?

Yes; I’m thinking about going to graduate school in African and African Diaspora Studies.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do for this project?

I actually interviewed my mother in order to understand the role that the LTTE played in Sri Lanka.

What’s been the greatest reward of doing research? The greatest challenge?

The greatest reward is being able to personally learn new things and understand who I am as a result. The greatest challenge is definitely getting through texts that are challenging to read, but also necessary to have a more accurate research conclusion.

What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?

Plan ahead, always be thinking about your research, and network to access people to interview and develop relationships with people in the field.

Research Week showcases the exciting work of undergraduates across campus and highlights opportunities for students interested in getting involved. Co-sponsored by the Senate of College Councils and the School of Undergraduate Studies, Research Week takes place in the middle of April each year. Take a look at the online schedule of events to find out more about Research Week events.