Our sixth student spotlight features Basil Bastaki, who is a member of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service Class of 2015 majoring in International Politics. His research develops a methodology for determining genocide survival and uses the case study of the Rwandan genocide.
How did you become involved in research at Georgetown?
I got involved with the Carroll Fellows in my freshman year and we were thrown into a summer research project. It just so happened that I was taking CPS at the time and traveled to Rwanda with the African Studies department for spring break. With all these experiences swirling around in my head, I decided to research identity politics in memoirs of the Rwandan genocide, so my GUURS paper has sprung directly from that first research project.
What was your favorite part about the research process?
I like the synthesis part: the construction of categories, frameworks, and concepts. I feel like I am engineering a new way to get a hold of reality and manipulate it. I like testing these concepts for scope, validity, and applicability. After all, a tool is only so useful.
How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?
I know Georgetown sponsors all sorts of grants, research assistance positions, and fieldwork programs. Beyond Carroll Fellows and that spring break trip during freshman year, most my research experience has come through final papers in my classes.
The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?
Tutorials! Hands down, tutorials (independent study courses) are the hidden gems of Georgetown. I’ve worked with Dr. Lahra Smith last year on “Introduction to the Political Science of Genocide Studies” and this semester I am working with Dr. Matthew Rudolph on “Identity Politics and Violence.” These courses are highly interdisciplinary, combining genocide studies, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and all branches of political science. In fact, my GUURS paper was the final paper from my genocide studies tutorial, and I got to work with Dr. Smith on it.
Describe your research in one sentence.
There are a couple ways to survive genocide, but it all comes down to luck.
What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?
In my experience, if you want to pursue research, try and incorporate it into your course-load. Tutorials are a good way to do this, as are seminars and research- and writing-intense courses.