Interested in sociology or anthropology? Considering a SoAn major or minor? Already declared? Then join us for FREE PIZZA and learn about our classes for Spring, 2019, (and other stuff going on in the department) from the SoAn faculty. Bring a friend!
I just returned from a quick trip to the University of Cologne, where I was invited to deliver a paper about migrants and labor camps in the urban landscape of Doha, Qatar. My paper, entitled Labor Camps and Urban Modernity in Doha, Qatar, provided a typology of the different sorts of accommodations that migrants refer to as “labor camps,” a bit of discussion about the norms and everyday life in those labor camps, and a more sustained discussion of how the placement and location of those labor camps in the
urban landscape syncopates with modernist urban planning in the region. Indeed, as I argue, consigning the transnational proletariat to labor camps at the margins of the city is really just one facet of a broader and strategic segregation of the foreign presence that seems, from the Qatari standpoint, to be a strategic engagement with global forces and interconnections.
It was particularly fascinating to see how these contemporary labor camps have parallels elsewhere in the world and precedents in history. Michael Hoffmann’s work in contemporary Nepal, for example, revealed to me that company-owned labor camps are a somewhat familiar feature in the states from which many migrants I study arrive. Similarly, Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf‘s paper demonstrated clear parallels with the Jordanian refugee camps that are her focus — the need to order and organize the chaos of these disenfranchised transnational peoples in regimented quarters. And these contemporary camps have historical parallels: Felix Wemheuer‘s paper detailed the camps of the Chinese laogai system, archeologist Alberto Marti‘s paper explored Cuban reconcentration camps, and Ulrike Lindner‘s paper looked at the camps in German and British South Africa that housed laborers in the gold and diamond mines; and Oliver Tappe‘s work explores the camps of the coolie labor camps on French-Indochinese rubber plantations. Numerous other papers also explored these issues.
I was honored to receive this invitation, and hope that I have another chance to work with the researchers and faculty at the Global South Studies Center.
Professor Glover spent some of her summer back in Asia, but this time she was visiting her son. Here’s a synopsis of her fascinating trip:
As anthropologists, we travel a lot. This summer I put on (probably too) many miles. One place I traveled to was China, a country in which I have lived and done long-term research. But this trip was a bit different: I was going to visit my son in language school in Beijing. He was there studying Mandarin at Beijing Language University on an intensive two-month program run through the University of Washington (where he is a student). A particularly exciting part of this picture is that I attended the same school—in 1992! At the time the name of the school was the Beijing Language Institute (北京语言学院). Thus my visit was enhanced by returning to my old school.
I found that most of the campus was transformed beyond recognition. Walking around somewhat dazed with my son, I believe I located the dorm that I lived in, although I cannot be 100% positive. I also recognized the library, the basketball court, and some of the stands of trees. Sadly, the air seems as polluted as I remember it in 1992, and subsequent years since then when I have been in Beijing (1999, 2009, 2012). The pace of building and construction in China is rapid, and 26 years has brought major shifts on the landscape. There have been significant social and cultural changes as well. When I was a student there, campus was surrounded on at least two sides by dirt roads; there were strict curfews on Chinese students spending time in the dorms filled with foreigners; there was no air conditioning, no “western” toilets; to acquire money one had to have brought US dollars or traveler’s checks to change at The Bank of China (and that bank only); very little English was spoken; and there were significantly few foreigners. Now, major roads surround the campus on all sides; Chinese students seem to move more freely on campus (campus is still dominated by foreign students, especially in the summer); all buildings are air conditioned with mainly private bathrooms for students (and “western” toilets); there is an ATM on campus although most people just use WeChat Money; many people beyond campus speak English; and Beijing alone has approximately half a million expats.
During that week on campus, I experienced a mix of feelings: proud of my son, nostalgic about times gone by, awed by how much I have witnessed with changes in the PRC. Of course change is something that anthropologists study: cultural, institutional, linguistic, and political change are of interest to us. But change can be hard to see up close, and it is often not until a long expanse of time elapses that we can notice that change ourselves. Indeed, the more we age, the more we are witness to change in front of our eyes.
We got out of Beijing for a few days and headed to Inner Mongolia—I have always wanted to see the grasslands. And grasslands we saw. We stayed at a pretty cheesy tourist resort, but the grass, the animals, and the people that ran the place were real. I was captivated watching horses and cows as they grazed near our yurt, and we saw an impressive show of horse-personship put on by a traveling troupe from the Republic of Mongolia (my daughter rides horses, so we have an appreciation for the sport). We also found our way one day into an enormous field of solar panels, as far as the eye can see. China is working diligently on alternative energy development, and this was on display on a massive scale to us that day. While we were on the grasslands, my son received news (via his phone and the internet, of course) that he was accepted into the electrical engineering program at UW. That was a surreal moment, one where the convergence of “old” and “new” China was so present to me.
Thanks so much for filling us in about this fascinating trip, and congrats to August on his acceptance!
We’re holding our final info meeting before registration for Puget Sound students interested in the new course designed by Dr. Robin Jacobson and me. The course, entitled CONN 397: Migration and the Global City, is described at more length here. In short, however, next semester we’ll be taking a small group of students to Doha, Qatar (over spring break) and Amsterdam (at the conclusion of the semester). At the informational meeting, we’ll be reviewing the additional costs to students, reviewing our itinerary, and distributing the application forms for interested students.
When: Wednesday, September 26, 12:00 Noon
Where: McIntyre 202
Students in SOAN were well represented at the summer research showcase, and we’re so very proud of each of them. We’re so very proud of each of them!
SoAn majors, minors, alums, and those who are just a little SoAn curious, please join us for a BBQ on the Jones Circle lawn during the first common hour of the semester! The Sociology & Anthropology Department faculty would like to welcome you back to campus, chat and reconnect, and wish you all the best for the coming year. There will be tasty and free food, maybe some lawn games, and plenty of good conversation. Bring a friend!
When? Wednesday, August 29th, 12-1:30pm
Where? Jones Circle lawn
Why? Why not?
Thousands of sociologists gathered in Philadelphia last week during the four-day American Sociological Association Annual Meeting. While the conference draws over 5,000 attendees at a couple of hotels and can be overwhelming, I nonetheless enjoy reuniting with colleagues across the country and making new connections. Other excitement included getting caught unprepared when a flash flood hit while I was walking to my panel over lunch (though my belief in the kindness of most strangers was reaffirmed when a local resident went out of his way to share his umbrella).
On the first day of the conference I was fortunate to learn from a panel of groundbreaking scholars offering analysis and feedback on my 2015 book, Women without Men: Single Mothers and Family Change in the New Russia.
Aside from connecting with fellow researchers, conferences are mostly useful for getting feedback on work in progress; I also presented some newer research on what I’m provisionally calling the “third shift” of carework performed by grandparents – regularly but often informally – on behalf of their adult children and grandchildren. The audience asked me questions that helped to push my thinking forward about who does what in caring for young children given our ongoing childcare crisis, where working parents are typically in a crunch and grandparents are living longer but face a range of options for how to best
spend their time. While waiting to board my flight home I was able to recruit two new grandmothers as interview subjects as they discussed the importance of grandmothers setting boundaries on how much care they provide. They explained how complicated it is trying to maintain a relationship with one’s grandchildren while also trying to have a life beyond childcare.
During this next academic year, while on leave from Puget Sound, I will be building on this research as an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) fellow at the University of Washington’s Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, which has a research focus on the well-being of families and households. The research fellowship, named after Frederick Burkhardt, supports ambitious, long-term projects by recently tenured scholars in the humanities and related social sciences. I argue that demographic and cultural trends surrounding longevity, paid work after
retirement, exorbitant childcare costs, and increasing levels of insecurity in family life have led to an underexplored reliance on grandparents, especially for childcare but including related forms of support, with differing effects by race and class. Using interviews with intergenerational dyads (grandparents providing childcare and adult children relying upon this grandparental assistance regularly), I will explore cultural meanings of this grandparental support across households. I am especially interested in theorizing age relations as a facet of these complex intergenerational power dynamics. In the coming months I will be focused primarily on conducting and analyzing interviews, with conversations helping to hone my analyses along the way. I look forward to further discussions with colleagues and students at Puget Sound when I return next year.