Ashraful Goni, a doctoral student in the College of Media & Communication, recently won first place for his research presentation at the 2022 Arts & Humanities Conference. Goni presented preliminary findings from his study regarding the representation of Western women in ISIS in creative media.
Texas Tech University's Division of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs hosted the conference with nine unique categories for presentation submissions, ranging from literary analysis to global studies. However, student entrants were not there to simply present research findings. The conference took the form of a competition, as students had only five minutes to relay information from their chosen research topics.
Goni participated in the conference for his second time as a graduate student.
“Last year I didn't get anything,” said Goni. “So when it came to this year, I had a plan. I caught my lesson that if you want to win this competition, you have to be very strategic. For example, if you want to go in with an amazing research idea with hardcore statistics, you're going to have a hard time conveying the information in five minutes.”
The conference is designed for students to practice teaching information to an audience who is otherwise unfamiliar with the subject matter at hand. In other words, how well do you know your material, and how well can you deliver the details in a succinct manner?
Although the winner of each category received $150, Goni says he enjoys the feedback he receives on his research, which he can then put into practice as he continues with the project.
“I love to do this,” said Goni. “It's good to talk with different people. How can you do better work? Listen to what the other people have to say. Especially here, where you get feedback from people who are from math or economics or geosciences. I find that very fascinating.”
Goni's research started as a project from a graduate course led by Professor Lyombe Eko, Ph.D.. Goni expressed interest in the Netflix series Caliphate, a drama inspired by the true stories of Western girls joining ISIS. After brainstorming with Eko, Goni decided to compare the representation within Caliphate to a documentary called My Daughter and the Caliphate, which portrays the story of a German girl coerced into leaving her family to join ISIS.
Based on his analysis, Goni identified five interlocking themes between the fictional and non-fictional representations of Western girls in ISIS:
· Love is a key factor for Western girls to join ISIS
· Identity crises
· ISIS propaganda aimed at European girls
· Muting female voices
With such a large subject matter at hand, Goni worked extensively to distill his research into a five-minute presentation.
“It's still research, but at the same time you are pitching something to people,” said Goni. “In research we're often writing 20 or 30 pages. We're going for publication. But this is all about engaging your audience and how you talk to them. There are restrictions, too, like watching your five minutes tick down in front of you.”
Goni found the right balance, as he walked away with the first-place prize in the film studies category.
“I was confident because, when I finished, a lot of people came to talk to me,” said Goni. “They told me it was a good presentation, and I also felt very good about it. It was fun.”
Goni is on study leave from Bangladesh University of Professionals, where he serves the student body as an assistant professor, and he plans to return with plentiful new experiences and knowledge to pass along. Goni says the culture shock required many adjustments, but he has found a second home in West Texas.
“There are lots of challenges, but thank God I found good souls and people in the college who helped me a lot,” said Goni.
Goni has worked with Associate Professor Kerk Kee, Ph.D., the Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication, and is furthering his comparative analysis on Western girls in ISIS as an independent study with Eko.