A grant that would give him an entire summer to research his own project about Japan, working one-on-one with a professor? That sounded good to first-year student Shavell Jones ’21, so he went for it. After some brainstorming he developed an idea that grew from his years of interest in Japanese culture — “Japanese Views of African Americans: 1940s-50s.” He applied and became one of 26 students who received an Emerson grant from Hamilton.
Three weeks into the work and knee deep in research, Jones says it’s been a challenge to unearth source material because he’s delving into a relatively unexamined topic. But that’s also part of what makes the work exciting. He’s working on the project with Kyoko Omori, associate professor of Japanese and chair of East Asian Languages and Literatures.
Potential Major: Asian Studies and Anthropology
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
High School: Achievement First Brooklyn High
“I’ve been reading different academic sources. I’ve been watching some Japanese films, so right now I’m watching a propaganda film about Japan that the U.S. created in World War II,” he says. The culmination will come fall semester, when Jones publically presents his findings on campus. If audience members leave knowing something new and seeing connections between African Americans and Japan, he’ll consider his Emerson a success.
As a prospective Asian studies (and anthropology) major, Jones intends for his summer’s work to lay the foundation for his senior thesis. “And also, as I improve my Japanese language skills and I learn more Japanese, maybe I can add onto this research in different ways, like doing interviews in Japanese, in Japan, when I get a chance to study abroad there,” he says.