American Voices Project Research Fellowship

This looks to be amazing opportunity for our seniors or recent grads for travelling around the country, getting rigorous in-depth interview training, and making a difference — the American Voices Project. Apparently this research fellowship offers competitive salary and benefits as well. More information: 

From the site: “Join our research team. Talk to people across America about their lives, their families, their experiences, and their hopes and dreams. Receive intensive research training from the country’s top scholars. Embark on an unforgettable journey.”


Archaeological Foundations in SOAN this year


Knappers Delight at Puget Sound

Hi all,

Thanks to the presence of visiting professor Dr. Peter Coutros, the SOAN department has been able to offer a small selection of archaeology courses this academic year. After catching the students chipping away at rocks outside of Diversions Cafe, we asked Pete to tell us a bit about his course — Archaeological Foundations — and some of their activities. Here’s what he had to say:

Archaeology is often thought of as the study of ancient stuff. Yet, while pyramids, temples, and ceramic vessels are the currency of archaeology, they are not the subject. Archaeologists hike through jungles and over sand dunes in order to uncover and understand the livesof past peoples, albeit through the material remains they have left behind. That is – we are interested in the people, not the stuff. This Fall, our Archaeological Foundations course is exploring how these material remains (or ‘ancient trash’) can reveal how people ate, moved around, prayed, built homes, and even played games in the very distant past. By exploring ancient sites from around the world, we are investigating how bits of ceramic, bone, and stone can retell the stories of peoples and cultures from long ago.


Students knapping the day away

For more than 3 million years, humans and our ancestors have been making and using stone tools. This longevity has allowed archaeologists to create detailed chronologies and classifications from around the world and over vast amounts of time. However, dating and classifying ancient stone tools will only reveal so much information about the people who created them. In order to fully appreciate the knowledge and skill behind each tool, you need to get your hands dirty and start knapping.


James Keffer instructing students in the craft of knapping

Earlier this semester our class was lucky enough to host James Keffer from the Puget Sound Knappers. An accomplished knapper, Mr. Keffer has been making stone tools since he was young, and has brought his expertise to various museums, classrooms, and Boy Scout troops around the broader Tacoma region. While stone tools are our species’ oldest technology, properly forming a stone tool is much more than simply hitting two stones together until one is sharp. Indeed, each lump of stone must undergo a series of complex stages on its way to becoming a tool. Craftsman must understand the properties of their raw material, and make decisions about where, how hard, and in what order to strike the stone. Mr. Keffer led our class through the process of making these decisions right outside of Diversions Café.

Students were also able to get hands-on, learning how ancient craftsmen worked with and thought about their tools by attempting to knapp their own stone arrow points. They were even able to keep their tools when they were done. While becoming an expert knapper requires many years of practice, our archaeology students seem to have caught the stone tool bug, and you may be seeing them at one of the upcoming Knapp-ins hosted by PSK!

If you are interested in learning more about stone tool production, or would like to visit one of the many events lead by the Puget Sound Knappers, visit their website and join the fun!

And keep your eyes peeled for the pair of archaeology courses that Dr. Coutros is offering at Puget Sound next semester — students are already abuzz about the opportunities.


Labor Camps, Refugee Camps, and a Conference in Cologne

CampsConference_PosterHi all,

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

labor camp

A labor camp in Doha, Qatar. 2010.

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 and her Summer Travels


Denise Glover and her son, August Avantaggio

Hi all,

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.


Solar panels

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.


Grasslands to the horizon

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 IMG_1889we 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!

Migrants and the Global City: Info Meeting

Hi all,

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

Migrants and the City (2) Info Session

The 2018 AHSS Summer Research Symposium

Hi all,

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!


Tessa Samuels’ project, Segmented Assimilation Concern Among Refugee Families, explored refugees’ experience here in the greater Puget Sound region.


Ashley Coyne’s summer research project, (Re)Writing Home: Unimagining and Reimagining Haitian Identity in Diasporic Literature from the United States, took an ethnographic approach to the literature that arose in diaspora in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.


Gigi Garzio’s project, Values Justifications, and Perspectives Connected to the Anti-Vaccination Movement, explored the overlapping threads by which this movement perseveres, despite the presence of countervailing scientific data.


Ana Siegal’s project, Environmental Decision-Making and Sense of Place: Exploring the Effects of Bears Ears’ Shifting Status on Stakeholders Personal Relationships to the Land, distilled a summer of Ana’s fieldwork in southern Utah into an assessment of various stakeholders’ sense of place in the contested lands.


Samantha Lilly’s summer research project, An Ethnographic, Experimental Philosophical Inquiry Into Attitudes and Perceptions Toward Suicidality, analyzed how various Americans conceive of the moralities and justifications for suicide and its prevention.