Izzy Pitman and a Soundscape about Atlanta

Hi all,

I think all of us are aware of how challenging the Spring semester of 2020 was for students, faculty, and the entire campus community. For my students in SOAN 213: City and Society, our departure from campus midway through the semester meant a series of virtual lectures, the abandonment of my plans to pioneer the new Tacoma Neighborhoods longitudinal project I had designed, and a substantial reconfiguration of the semester-concluding Global Cities project.

Izzy 3While lots changed, the pandemic also shook up my expectations from students. Sophomore Izzy Pitman (pictured here, at home in Atlanta) convinced me to accept a recorded soundscape in lieu of the written PDF I typically require. And I’m so happy that she did! In this particular assignment, students are required to experientially explore the city, and to use their “drift” through the urban landscape to unpack and analyze some aspect of the theories, theorists, and/or ideas integral to urban planning and history — theories and ideas we’ve been discussing together as a class. This soundscape explores the impact of Frederick Law Olmstead‘s ideas of urban planning and the centrality of parks to the urban landscape through Izzy’s exploration of his legacy in Atlanta. Check it out:

Olmstead, Parks, and Greenspaces in Atlanta:

bye for now!

Andrew

SoAn Antiracism Initiative: Anthropology Resources

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology is committed to promoting the values of diversity, equity, and human rights and to confronting racism in our fields of research, our institution, and our classrooms. The study of race and ethnicity, as well as social movements, advocacy, and justice, are central to both of our disciplines. In support of these goals, we are launching a collaborative antiracism initiative over the coming academic year.

A central component of this program will be a site of collected resources for confronting racism, which will reflect the perspectives of scholars, authors, and other creators who are rooted in the anthropological and sociological traditions.

The first resource collection: CONFRONTING RACISM: ANTHROPOLOGY RESOURCES launches today, and can be accessed here. The site includes readings and recommendations from our department’s anthropology faculty, as well as resources for understanding anthropological perspectives on race, antiracism, activism, and more. It will be updated regularly to reflect our conversations with the SoAn community, current events, and partner contributions.

In the coming weeks, we will launch a collection of sociological resources, and we plan to work with SoAn students on a discussion and speaker series this fall, which will draw on the sources collected on these sites, as well as others.

If you are interested in contributing to these resources or participating in the organization of the fall series, please contact Gareth Barkin or Jason Struna.

Collaborative Creation of a Nepalese Research Center

Greetings all,

Several students in the orbit of the SOAN Department have new AHSS Summer Research projects they’re pursuing amidst the tumultuous summer. I asked Karina to tell us a bit about her summer project, and her work with my good friend Deependra Giri. Here’s what she had to say:

Collaborative Creation of a Nepalese Research Center 

Karina CherniskeKarina

This summer I am honored to be working remotely with Deependra Giri in the collaborative construction of an NGO in Nepal. Deependra has a vision to create an NGO in Nepal, his home, and hopes that the NGO will support researchers on various projects. I intend to help him built his vision, and these efforts will coalesce in creating a website that will distill some of the key research elements he intends to provide, including translation, scheduling, data collection, and establishing qualitative samples. Additionally I will be conducting my own interviews with Deependra and others to explore the current challenges and socio-political climate in Nepal, and attempt to discern what role international research plays in Nepalese society. In the project I hope to gain a perspective on the presence and role of NGOs in South Asia, and better understand how they are responding to the unique needs of the global pandemic. 

While I had originally intended to travel and to Bhairahawa, Nepal, I will now be communicating with Mr. Giri remotely. This changes the participant observation emphasis of the project, but still allows for many of the original goals to be implemented. I am excited to learn more about the ways that communities in Nepal are sharing resources and coming together to meet the needs of all people in the face of an uncaring federal government.

Good luck to you, Karina! We’re obviously sorry to hear your trip to Nepal was called off, but this project sounds wonderful nonetheless! Some additional details: With the sustained emphasis on independent field-based research, students in Puget Sound’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology have frequently received support from the University’s competitive program for funded student summer research. Indeed, the sequence of fascinating projects — conducted by SOAN students as part of the University’s AHSS program. This year was no exception, and we’re proud of our students’ success! But the global pandemic threw a wrench in these students’ plans. As a result, projects funded and approved for summer research had to be quickly reconfigured to the new realities of the Summer of 2020. The reconfigured results are detailed above.

Alternative Lifestyles: Off-the-Grid and Intentional Communities

Greetings all,

As previously noted, several students in the orbit of the SOAN Department have new AHSS Summer Research projects they’re pursuing amidst our tumultuous summer. I asked Maya to tell us a bit about her summer project, and here’s what she had to say:

Alternative Lifestyles: Off-the-Grid and Intentional Communities

Maya GilliamIMG_9861

My project revolves around individuals or groups of people who choose to organize community and live in ways that deviate from the norm. Specifically I am interested in ‘alternative’ or ‘off the grid’ lifestyles. Washington state has an abundance of these communities that I aim to make contact with and to further understand the driving forces of these places, and the common values they share. The project will delve into particular communities to grasp a deeper knowledge about the social circumstances they respond to. Through this project I hope to aid in dismantling the oversimplification of alternative communities in mainstream culture, and extrapolate and explain their complexities. Although pandemic protocols don’t allow student researchers to engage in person with subjects, I am going to get creative and find a number of ways to explore this topic. My research will look into both historic intentional communities and their changes throughout time. Additionally, I want to grasp a sense of the ways in which these communities are responding to the contemporary crisis. What community ethos are arising in this moment? How is the pandemic changing these communities?

For this project I will do a considerable amount of book research, in addition to reaching out to specific communities to do zoom or phone interviews. Collecting as many interviews and first hand accounts as possible is greatly important for an ethnographic study like this. I aspire to come away from this project with a much more extensive historical and contemporary understanding of alternative lifestyles, and present this acquired knowledge through a captivating platform (blog, podcast, or magazine article). I am really looking forward to engaging in this topic, continuing to be flexible with my work, and learning new and unprecedented tools for safe and responsible ethnographic research.

We’re excited to hear about your findings, Maya! Good luck this summer, and we’ll check back in a few months to hear how it’s all going! Some additional details: With the sustained emphasis on independent field-based research, students in Puget Sound’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology have frequently received support from the University’s competitive program for funded student summer research. Indeed, the sequence of fascinating projects — conducted by SOAN students as part of the University’s AHSS program. This year was no exception, and we’re proud of our students’ success! But the global pandemic threw a wrench in these students’ plans. As a result, projects funded and approved for summer research had to be quickly reconfigured to the new realities of the Summer of 2020. The reconfigured results are detailed above.

An Exploration of the Urban Landscape and Marginal Communities in Tacoma, Washington

Greetings all,

Several students in the orbit of the SOAN Department have new AHSS Summer Research projects they’re pursuing amidst the tumultuous summer. I asked Oscar Edwards-Hughes to tell us a bit about his summer project:

Interstitial Space: An Exploration of the Urban Landscape and Marginal Communities of Tacoma, Washington

Oscar Edwards-Hughes

IMG_1140Cities, and the urban landscape they comprise, are complicated collections of social, political, and historical forces. In the United States, and much of the world, these cities are simultaneously two things: a patchwork of private property and public space, and densely populated areas with a notable social fabric. In all cities around the world, there are better properties and worse properties, and considering contemporary inequality in America specifically, there are wealthy Americans and poor Americans. Of these poorer Americans, many live on the same city streets we see and walk down every day. This project is an exploration of that junction — between urban space in America and American society.

Interstitial space “comprises the zones and spaces between plans, the unplanned, spaces that for some reason or another have eluded planners’ gaze,” (Gardner ND). This unplanned or abandoned space can be seen throughout urban areas, consisting of spaces where planning and boundaries are unclear or non-existent; a space seemingly missed or uncalculated by city planners. At first glance this space seems totally functionless, but previous academic research suggests the possibility that interstitial space, sometimes referred to as “junk space,” provides functions for communities overlooked by the general public (Koolhaas 2002).

This summer I will be conducting a series of interviews with community outreach coordinators, activists, and law enforcement personnel. With these interviews I hope to discover what communities of people are involved with this interstitial space, their differing opinions and roles, and the interactions between them. These interviews are to serve as a tool for gaining more insight into what work is already being done, or has been done, in these spaces, as well building an understanding into the history of these spaces. The heart of my project will be observation in Tacoma’s interstitial spaces in an effort to understand how this space is functionally vital to some of the most marginal members of our society. I will be spending time in Tacoma’s interstitial spaces, observing the things, people, and happenings I see in the space, and documenting my experiences through writing and photography. In my research, I will be observing how people interact with this space, what functions the space serves, what common happenings occur, and what common identifying features these spaces share. I will be observing normal everyday occurrences and abnormal events, the movement and attitudes of people, the mundane and the exciting, etc. Through this observation I aim to build an understanding of the domain, the people interacting with the space, and the space’s functionality.

 

We’re proud of you, Oscar, and we look forward to hearing about how this project goes over the remaining summer. Good luck! Some additional details: With the sustained emphasis on independent field-based research, students in Puget Sound’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology have frequently received support from the University’s competitive program for funded student summer research. Indeed, the sequence of fascinating projects — conducted by SOAN students as part of the University’s AHSS program. This year was no exception, and we’re proud of our students’ success! But the global pandemic threw a wrench in these students’ plans. As a result, projects funded and approved for summer research had to be quickly reconfigured to the new realities of the Summer of 2020. The reconfigured results are detailed above.

SoAn Class of 2020 Graduates!

Hello All!

It’s certainly been a strange and challenging semester for students and faculty, but the global pandemic didn’t alter the fact that another cohort of SOAN students reached the finish line in their undergraduate studies at the University of Puget Sound. Although students and families were spread all over North America, we concluded our semester with an online celebration for our graduates.

Below you’ll find brief notes about the winners of our annual departmental honors and awards, followed by a list of our seniors’ thesis projects. As usual, that list of projects is a vivid testament to the latitude of interests that coalesce in the SOAN department. But first, the awards:

C. WRIGHT MILLS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE MAJOR

This special departmental award is given to a student majoring in sociology and anthropology for excellence in the major.

Alena McIntosh

Alena McIntosh

Alena McIntosh exemplifies many of our aspirations for students in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Her intellectual prowess is obvious to all the professors who’ve worked with her, but she couples that intellect with a considerate thoughtfulness that’s a product of her sustained interaction with both sociology and anthropology. She carries the perspectives she’s developed at Puget Sound to a frame of global concern, and the worldly footprint she’s developed has made her a more thoughtful and reflective American. In short, Alena is an excellent ambassador for our department, and we’re so very proud of her. Congratulations, Alena!

LEON GRUNBERG SERVICE AWARD

This special departmental award is given to a student majoring in sociology and anthropology for service to the department.

Tammy Smith

Tammy Smith

With her unique interaction with SOAN—a course each semester over many years—Tammy Smith steadily and assuredly wove her way into the consciousness of the department. Here, at the end of her time with us, our respect for Tammy has never been more clear. Tammy brought a clear-headedness to her assessment of what sociology and anthropology have to offer, and her intellectual maturity was a welcome counterbalance in many of the discussions and conversations we faculty members sought to foster in the classroom. The SOAN department is lucky to have been a part of Tammy’s journey, and wishes her continued success in the next chapters of her life. Congratulations, Tammy!

HONORS IN THE MAJOR, SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY

Abby Gustke

Mariah Thomson

Namiko Service
Mariah Thomson

Each year, the sociology and anthropology faculty designate departmental honors to a select number graduating seniors. This recognition is based on the students’ academic performance, as well as contributions to the culture of the department. We are very proud of this year’s honors recipients in sociology and anthropology, whose work in our department reflects insight, critical thinking, and a dedication to understanding the social world.

AKD SOCIOLOGY HONORS SOCIETY

  • Avery Bearden
  • Alana Gutkin
  • Alena McIntosh
  • Tammy Smith

Sociology & Anthropology Class of 2020 Senior Thesis Titles

  • Abby Gustke — Food Truck Nation: Exploring the social meanings associated with the production and consumption of street food in America
  • Alana Gutkin — Starting over: An ethnographic examination of the Social Networks Among Elderly Immigrants
  • Alena McIntosh — Beyond the Gap: An Ethnographic Examination of the ‘Deep State’ and Political Polarization in Modern America
  • Allison Park — “Artificial Intelligence Redefining Intrinsic Human Qualities”
  • Avery Bearden — “Political Polarization on Twitter: Echo Chambers, Social Division, and the Disintegration of Democracy”
  • Emma Shields — “Implications of Climate Crises on Low-Income Communities in California”
  • Gabbie Berg — “The Paradox of the Female Athlete”
  • Gaia Bostick — “Historical Memories and Remnants of War and UXO in Present-Day Laos”
  • Isaac Wasserman — “Social Media and Identity: The Online and Offline Profiles”
  • Kate Harlan — “Society and Social Identity: How Stigma Marginalizes the Addict”
  • Katie Young — “I Can Do Anything A Man Can Do”: Understanding and Identifying Influences in Female Decision-Making
  • Liv Turner Sage — The Place where Music Happens: The Importance of Music Venues in Tacoma, Washington
  • Mariah Thompson — Interdisciplinary Conservation Science: Imperative to Conservation Success
  • Mariana Sanchez-Castillo — “The Gaze of American News Media: The Production of Vulnerability and Disaster in Puerto Rico”
  • Maxx Cohn — A Gender Ascender: Examining the Role of Masculinity in Safety of Rock Climbing Communities
  • Michael Carter — “Out of the Tower and onto the Ground: An Analysis of Degrowth in Cuba”
  • Namiko Service — “Language Socialization, Theory of Mind, and Narrative Practice: A Holistic Approach”
  • Rachel Dean — Latinx Representation in Curriculum
  • Rebecca Heald — “Multiplicity in Simplicity: A Study of Denim”
  • Sanjay Kambhatla — “Yoga for Health and Cancer”
  • Sarah Nickle — Transmission of the Kitchen: An Analysis of Young People’s Learnt Behavior Around the Production and Consumption of Food​
  • Soli Loya-Lara — “Style as Rebellion: Mexican-American Women in the Chicana and Punk Eras”
  • Spencer Monahan — “Unconscious Oversight: Religious Power and Political Systems”
  • Tammy Smith — Come Play with Me: Building Community and Cohesion in Neighborhood Parks

Again, we’re so proud of all of you! Congrats on your graduation, and we look forward to hearing about what comes next in your life journeys.

 

 

Catching Up with Samantha Lilly (’19)

Hi all.

IMG_1930

Sam, here during her visit to Lithuania.

Alumnus Samantha Lilly (’19) received a Watson award — a highly competitive award that allows students to pursue a project central to their intellectual passions for an entire year upon graduation. Moreover, the Watson requires students to do so in four or five different countries around the world. Sam began researching her project on suicidality in SOAN 299: Ethnographic Methods, and then continued exploring that very same theme in an AHSS Summer Research project. That same interest is driving her trek around the world: she’s trying to understand how suicide is framed, conceptualized, and addressed in different cultural settings. And after a few months in the Netherlands, she’s now wrapping up her time in Argentina. I asked her for an update, and here’s the reply I received!

Hello from Buenos Aires, Argentina! This is not my first time writing something for the University of Puget Sound’s Sociology and Anthropology blog. In the summer of 2018, when I Andrew was my research advisor, I had the opportunity to tell you all about the ethnographic study I was conducting concerning the narratives Survivors of Suicide have surrounding their loved one’s death. 

IMG_2506

At the World Congress on Mental Health meeting, 2019.

I have since graduated from UPS. Now, I am Thomas J. Watson Fellow! My project, “Understanding Suicidality Across Cultures” aims to, unsurprisingly, understand suicide across cultures from a medical, political, historical, indigenous, religious, spiritual, and socioeconomic perspective. The overall goal of the project is to learn from other cultures.

What do these communities know that we in the States do not? What must I learn or unlearn to better understand the unique situatedness of each culture and the people found within?

IMG_1634

At the offices of the Dutch suicide prevention line.

I spent two and a half months in Europe (the end of July to the middle of October), primarily based in the Netherlands, traveling from city to city every day (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, etc.). I spent most of my time interviewing psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, bioethicists, and general practitioners about their impressions of the 2002 Dutch Euthanasia Law. This law, unlike Death with Dignity Laws in the States, also allows people who have a diagnosed psychiatric illness to request to die with the aid of their General Practitioner. Indeed, there are many requirements and criteria that must be met in order for the patient to be approved e.g., unbearable suffering, no viable alternative, amongst other things.

IMG_0625

Sam befriended these boys via the urban soccer pitch

Some of these psychiatrists allowed me to speak with their patients who are requesting to die via psychiatric euthanasia – one of my favorite days in Europe was spent in Antwerp, Belgium drinking beer and coffee with Amy, who was approved for psychiatric euthanasia three years ago, but has yet to utilize it. I also spent an abundance of time interviewing suicide prevention networks as well as their national rail operator, ProRail.

I have also been going out of my way to “feel the edges” of my project. I toured the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam with an expert on Van Gogh’s suicide and then later traveled to the South of France to retrace Vincent’s steps to understand the ecological and aesthetic deterrents to suicidality.

But, one of the most impactful periods of my fellowship thus far was found Lithuania. I flew to the Baltic Country because it boasts the highest suicide rate in the European Union. (And, also the third highest globally.) There, I gleaned incredible insights into the impact cultural trauma and the transgenerational transmission of trauma from suicidologists and representatives from the United Nations. There are no words for this experience.

IMG_2204

At the Boca Juniors game in Buenos Aires

I am now living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here, I spend a lot of time with the incredible people working within the Argentinian Ministry on Mental Health. In 2010, the ministry and directorate implemented a mental health care law based in human rights (Ley de salud mental N 26657).  Its end goal? To eliminate psychiatric hospitals across the nation. However, when I am not working within the government, I travel to the remaining psychiatric and general hospitals interviewing patients on their past suicide attempts, their experience with stigma, and the psychiatrists who run the wards. Although it takes a lot of reflection and time to comprehend what I’m learning, one thing is made immediately clear: community based approaches to suicidality are significantly more effective than simply involuntarily committing and medicating patients.

Amongst all of the interviews with professionals, I also spend a lot of time asking locals and friends “why they stay alive?” This is my nice way of asking: “why haven’t you killed yourself?” I transcribe and code each of these interviews and the results are philosophically fascinating! I’ll let you know more when I am more confident in the findings. (-;

IMG_2200

Basking in football fandom in Argentina

I will soon head to the Argentine countryside to work on a farm that advertises itself as an alternative to traditional and medical forms of psychotherapy. Then, shortly after Christmas, I fly to New Zealand to learn from the Māori people, whose youth kill themselves at an unfathomable rate in comparison with the rest of the world. After my stint in New Zealand, I fly to Indonesia to delve into the religious and spiritual perspectives concerning suicidality. And, lastly, I will make my way to Nepal, the poorest country in South Asia, to understand how socioeconomic distress amongst indigeneity and religiosity affects the Nepali people in the city of Kathmandu and  those in the Terai plains, in Bhairahawa.

I’m four months into my Watson Year and there is so much I have left unsaid in this blog post. Here are a few highlights beyond what I’ve said above.

  1. I am obsessed with the Turkish food found in the Netherlands. I’d do anything for another kapsalon or Turkish pizza. I also am obsessed with the people there. I miss my Dutch friends daily.
  2. I have learned so much about what it means to “fail up” (another main tenant of the Watson). Plan B should be as good, if not better, than Plan A.
  3. I have the opportunity to play fútbol with the psychiatrists, service users, and psychologists from Hospital Álverez every Friday (I dedicated a lot of my life to the sport). And, it is one of the most beautiful collaborations of passion I have ever experienced.
  4. As a barista, it is beautiful to have a skill that is applicable worldwide. I get to pour my own cappuccino every day, no matter what country I’m in.

If you want to follow along outside of the SOAN Blog – feel free to visit my personal Watson blog at eatingyellowpaint.com.

Dank je wel! Gracias!

Sam (:

Professor Gökçe Günel to Speak about Masdar City

Gokce Spaceship Poster

Hi all,

Gökçe Günel, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Rice University in Houston, Texas, will be visiting the University of Puget Sound campus next week. In addition to other engagements on campus, she’ll be delivering a lecture about her new book, Spaceship in the Desert: Energy, Climate Change, and Urban Design in Abu Dhabi (Duke University Press, 2019), at 5:00 PM on Monday, in the Rasmussen Rotunda.

Masdar City is a $22 billion “city” recently constructed on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. In Günel’s book, she levies her ethnographic gaze at this megaproject — a conurbation that manifests various dreams of techno-futurism, a project that collates all sorts of energy efficient and sustainable practices, and an urban feature now seems to be a veritable green ghost town lost amongst other megaprojects and other urban constructions.

Lecture by Gökçe Günel
5:00 PM, Rasmussen Rotunda, Wheelock Student Center
Monday, November 18, 2019

Sponsored by the Tarbell Family Endowed Visiting Mentorship Fund

Please join us for this sure-to-be-fascinating talk!

Andrew

Langdon Cook to Speak about Salmon

salmon

Hi all,

iuWe’re happy to announce that Langdon Cook — writer, instructor and lecturer on wild foods and the outdoors — will be visiting the University of Puget Sound again in the near future. On his last visit to campus, he talked to the students in SOAN 117: The Anthropology of Food and Eating, about his highly regarded book The Mushroom Hunters. Thanks to support from the McIntyre Seminar Series, on his return to campus he’ll be talking about his new book Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table. If you’re interested in fish, food, gathering, gleaning, environment, and/or the PNW, you’ll definitely want to come have a listen.

We hope you can join us! Here are the details:

Title: Fish Tales: A Writer’s Journey into the Salmon Connection
Details: Wednesday, November 13 @ 4:00 PM, McIntyre 309

Andrew