Southeast Asia Symposium this Friday!

Please join us for the first annual Southeast Asia Symposium this Friday, 10/24, in Wyatt 109, an event to celebrate our new ‘fieldschools in Southeast Asia’ initiative that began last summer, and will continue in the spring in Malaysia. What’s a symposium, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

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Professor Moorthy

At 4pm we’ll have our keynote talk from Professor Ravichandran Moorthy, who has flown in from Malaysia to discuss his research on environmental ethics in Asian resource management. Dr. Moorthy’s work is focused on the intersections of the environment, bioethics, and social justice in Malaysia. He will be discussing work from his recently published book titled Environmental Ethics in Managing Resources in the Asia Pacific.

LIASE seminar photo

Student panelists, from left to right: Brenda Seymour, Logan Day, Kasey Janousek, [David Balgley wouldn't fly in from Morocco to join the panel], Caryn Stein, Claire Grubb, Lenny Henderson (below), and the disembodied head of Chelsea Steiner.

At 5pm we have a SOAN-heavy group of seven students (and recent graduates) discussing the research projects they conducted as part of last year’s fieldschool in Indonesia. Topics range from conservation culture to fashion to Javanese hip hop.

Around 6:45pm, or whenever the student panel finishes, we’ll have a lavish dinner catered by Indochine, for those who have been dutifully attending or participating in the symposium. Tasty!

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Peter Wimberger, hard at work off the coast of Sulawesi.

At 7pm, for those interested in next semester’s Southeast Asia field school in Malaysia, Peter Wimberger, who will be teaching it, will hold an information session to discuss the course/trip, and application process. Anyone interested should make sure to attend, and it’s recommended you come to the whole symposium.

And that’s it! Promises to be a fun and informative event. Please contact Gareth Barkin for more information about the symposium, or Peter Wimberger about the 2015 field school course.

Chelsea Harris’ Senior Thesis Project

Chelsea and a large vegetable

Chelsea and a large vegetable

For my senior thesis I plan to analyze the intersection of modern, secular American culture and evangelical subculture as it occurs in evangelical churches. More specifically, I want to better understand how churches, as institutions, engage in this cultural interplay, and how their congregants conceptualize it. Although I am still in the process of fine-tuning my research design, I envision spending significant amounts of time as a participant observer in a handful of evangelical churches in the Tacoma area, and possibly in Portland. In-depth, semi-structured interviews with church leaders and congregants and analysis of church materials will also supplement my observations.

My inspiration for this project comes from the fusion of personal experience and academic interests. Growing up Christian, the workings of churches, both on Sunday mornings and beyond, has always fascinated me. Add to this curiosity a healthy helping of social theory and a religion minor, and the result is an inevitable interest in the sociology of religion. The direction of my thesis was also influenced by ethnographic work I conducted last spring on Christian ministry-workers’ perceptions about their place within secular culture. This project fed my curiosity about the sacred-secular dynamic within American Christianity, making me want to better understand this dynamic from angles beyond the perspective of “professional Christians.” This initial research fed my curiosity enough to make the church as an institution a key point of focus for my thesis.

[Note: In the reconfigured SOAN curriculum, seniors in the department spend their Fall semester reading somewhat comprehensively on two topics they select from the breadth of sociological and anthropological interests. For many of the seniors, that new foundation in the social scientific literature will inform the independent research projects they will design and then conduct in the Spring semester. As we approach the midway point of the Fall semester, I asked students in my thesis seminar to sketch the research projects they are configuring for their last semester at Puget Sound. At this point, these are just plans, but collectively this group of projects look great.]

 

Tonight: “Collaborative Conservation Comes to Monarchs and Milkweeds,” Gary Nabhan

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Public talk by Gary Paul Nabhan

“Collaborative Conservation Comes to Milkweeds and Monarchs”

October 8, 7:00 pm Rasmussen Rotunda, Wheelock Student Center

Confrontational environmental action (though protests, litigation and boycotts) played an important role in the years following Earth Day, but has had less and less success in changing the dialogue with more complex issues. A different paradigm called collaborative conservation or “finding the radical center” changes the cultural dynamics around complex environmental issues to negotiation and on-the-ground actions which may have benefits for all stakeholders in addition to the species or habitats of concern. Nabhan will discuss this option in terms of its successes among ranchers and environmentalists, indigenous peoples and wildlife conservationists, and more recently, those engaged with monarch butterflies and milkweeds.

 Gary Nabhan is an orchard keeper, seed saver, ethnobotanist and conservation biologist who lives and farms near the Mexican border. He is also an Ecumenical Franciscan brother involved in food justice and climate justice work. Utne Reader honored him as one of 24 global citizens whose work with communities is helping make the world a better place in which to live. An author of 26 books, he now devotes his time to growing plants, assisting border communities with their needs, and prayer.

Kara Flynn’s Senior Thesis Project

 

1001406_442500535848962_1753642220_nFor my SOAN thesis, I am researching how libraries function as social and cultural spaces, and how the widespread digitization of library collections is affecting this space. In order to understand the role of libraries as socio-cultural spaces today, I will also consider how libraries, in America particularly, have functioned as social and cultural spaces in the past, and the contributions that libraries make to individual and cultural identity. While I am not sure what my research field work will look like yet, I am hoping to interview librarians and archivists, as well as library patrons from Tacoma (and potentially other surrounding communities) to better understand how librarians and library patrons understand library space and how they feel digitization is affecting their library experiences.

My interest in this topic was sparked by my summer research fellowship in the archives this past summer, during which I worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the University, writing and editing Wikipedia articles related to our archival collections. The goal of my summer research was to make the resources available at our physical library more widely accessible, not just to students and faculty, but a larger and more diverse community via the Internet. This got me thinking about the potential implications of digitization in libraries. On the one hand, digitization has the power to make rare or more specialized resources available to anyone with internet access, which would mean that a whole new group of people might have the opportunity to gain forms of cultural capital previously out of their reach. However, if the social and cultural value of libraries is based in their physicality, how does digitization and the liminal space of the Internet affect this aspect of libraries?

I am looking forward to exploring these questions through my research this year!

[Note: In the reconfigured SOAN curriculum, seniors in the department spend their Fall semester reading somewhat comprehensively on two topics they select from the breadth of sociological and anthropological interests. For many of the seniors, that new foundation in the social scientific literature will inform the independent research projects they will design and then conduct in the Spring semester. As we approach the midway point of the Fall semester, I asked students in my thesis seminar to sketch the research projects they are configuring for their last semester at Puget Sound. At this point, these are just plans, but collectively this group of projects look great.]

Film Screening of ‘Some Na Ceremonies’ with Director Tami Blumenfield (Oct. 10)

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Film Screening of Some Na Ceremonies & Discussion with Director Tami Blumenfield

Friday, Oct 10, 12:00-1:00, Commencement Hall 272

Some Na Ceremonies, created by Na directors Onci Archei and Ruheng Duoji and produced by U.S. anthropologist Tami Blumenfield, is a montage of five short pieces. Representations of Na people (also known as Moso) usually center on their matrilineal kinship system, overlooking religion, a central aspect in the lives of Na people. This film’s directors decided to intervene in this omission, capturing important ceremonies on digital video. Ranging from a village film festival, to a pig-sacrifice ceremony, to a three-day funerary ceremony, the ceremonies presented here are riveting, elaborate and meaningful. By avoiding interpretation or voice-over narration but using carefully crafted visual images, the film emphasizes the partiality of any representational attempt. The ceremonies presented are but a glimpse of a much larger ceremonial and spiritual world.

Some Na Ceremonies is an outgrowth of the Moso Media Project, a collaborative, participatory media project that involved providing resources and training for Na people interested in creating and editing digital media, then facilitating community conversations.

Mason Constantino’s Senior Project Proposal

greenthumbsMy senior thesis research will ethnographically explore the Eastside Greenthumbs (EGT) after school gardening and sustainability camp. Over the previous summer I worked as an intern for the EGT summer program, a free seven-week camp centered around a school garden outside of Roosevelt Elementary School in Tacoma. I became impassioned with the concept of helping children discover the food system around them and explore the benefits of healthy and sustainable eating. EGT is unique in its compassionate and hands-on approach to teaching, but there is a lack of sociological research confirming the legitimacy of the program both as a substantial tool for changing eating habits and for contributing to the food justice movement as a whole.

​I plan to be a participant observer in the upcoming after-school program for EGT and interview families and community food justice leaders in order to gain a comprehensive prospective of the program. In the process of tackling the sociological issue of effective food justice and advocacy programs I want to examine EGT as a case study of the 21st century concept of help and the issue of the “white savior complex.” How does the positionality of the white, north-side program organizers interact with the multi-ethnic population they are attempting to “help”? In what ways do the organizer’s awareness of their positionality help and hinder their efforts? Does the community have a desire for the program in the first place, and if so, what is their prospective on those implementing the program? In order to effectively execute a program such as EGT these are questions that must be answered and are of great interest to me personally.

[NOTE: In the reconfigured SOAN curriculum, seniors in the department spend their Fall semester reading somewhat comprehensively on two topics they select from the breadth of sociological and anthropological interests. For many of the seniors, that new foundation in the social scientific literature will inform the independent research projects they will design and then conduct in the Spring semester. As we approach the midway point of the Fall semester, I asked students in my thesis seminar to sketch the research projects they are configuring for their last semester at Puget Sound. At this point, these are just plans, but collectively this group of projects look great.]

Elise Zeidman’s Senior Thesis Project

[In the reconfigured SOAN curriculum, seniors in the department spend their Fall semester reading somewhat comprehensively on two topics they select from the breadth of sociological and anthropological interests. For many of the seniors, that new foundation in the social scientific literature will inform the independent research projects they will design and then conduct in the Spring semester. As we approach the midway point of the Fall semester, I asked students in my thesis seminar to sketch the research projects they are configuring for their last semester at Puget Sound. At this point, these are just plans, but collectively this group of projects look great.]

senior picMy project seeks to explore the lived experiences of detained immigrants in the process of applying for asylum on the basis of fleeing narco-violence. Violence related to drug cartels in Mexico and Central America is a pressing issue currently, and has increased since 2006. As the situation in these countries becomes more volatile, it has created a new motivation for people to migrate to the United States. Most of these people are not able to do so legally, and then are detained when they are discovered not to have legal documentation in the United States. More people are detained at the border, and before they are deported, they are asked “are you afraid to return to your home country?” When they answer yes, they are sent to a detention facility instead of deported. The majority of detained immigrants seeking asylum do not speak English well, do not have legal representation, and do not have an in-depth understanding of the legal process of asylum application. Furthermore, they have suffered trauma that has caused them to flee their home countries, and are currently residing in a prison-type situation.

My ethnographic research will focus on interviews with detained immigrants who are seeking asylum and supporting their case with the argument that if they returned to their home countries, they would be in danger of violence from drug trafficking organizations. I will ask them about their reasons for and experiences fleeing their home countries, their experiences living in detention, and navigating the immigration and asylum legal systems. I will also talk with attorneys who represent such cases and migrants who have been successful in obtaining asylum.

For the last year and a half I have worked as a volunteer translator for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. I translate legal documents from Spanish to English. I also meet with detained immigrants who have indicated that they would like translation help in completing applications. These applications may be for a variety of forms of relief—Green Card, U Visa, etc.—but are most often for asylum. I hope to get some asylum seekers’ permission to record our sessions of completing their applications, and then ask them about their experiences living in detention and navigating the legal system.