SOAN Students at the SfAA Conference in Pittsburgh

Hi all,

Puget Sound students at the Pittsburgh SfAA Poster Session

Puget Sound students at the Pittsburgh SfAA Poster Session. Clockwise from upper left: Mason Constantino, Reilly Rosbotham, Mally Wyld and Elena Becker.

Seven Puget Sound students just returned from the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) annual meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. The SfAA is the second largest annual gathering of anthropologists, and it attracts both practitioners and academics who work in heath, development, environmental change, education, migration, and a constellation of other topics.

Six Puget Sound students participated in the poster session — a session that’s a perennially popular event at the SfAA. Students (and others) prepare a poster that details their research project, and hundreds of conference attendees explore and discuss these projects with students. Amongst many others in the audience, Puget Sound students discussed their research with H.Russell Bernard, Brian Burke, David Hoffman and Erin Dean.

Most of these posters detail the students’ senior thesis projects in SOAN — projects in progress this semester. Sophomore Elena Becker presented the findings from her independent project from SOAN 299: Ethnographic Methods, and Parker Raup (IPE) presented a poster about his summer research project in Tanzania. Altogether, here are the titles of those posters:

Parker Raup

Parker Raup

  • Mason Constantino (Puget Sound) Empowerment through Care: An Ethnographic Examination of a Youth Gardening and Sustainable Living Education Program in Tacoma, WA
  • Elena Becker (Puget Sound) Generational Change in Durable Intentional Communities
  • Kasey Janousek (Puget Sound) The Fashionista’s Dilemma: The Identity Politics of Following Fashion Trends
  • Parker Raup (Puget Sound) Defending Pastoralism: Livelihood Diversification and Competing Currencies in Northern Tanzanian Maasailand
  • Kasey Janousek

    Kasey Janousek

    Reilly Rosbotham (Puget Sound) Imagining the Wild: Conceptions of What MakesLand Wild among proponents of Wilderness Conservation and Re-Wilding Efforts in Western Washington

  • Mally Wyld (Puget Sound) Our Daily Choices: Analyzing How and Why We Eat What We Eat

Notably, Erica Hann also had a poster in the session. Erica graduated from Puget Sound (IPE) in 2011, and she previously won an award at this very poster session. Nowadays, she’s completing her Master’s Degree in Geography at Pennsylvania State University.

Elize Zeidman's presentation

Elize Zeidman’s presentation

While most students presented posters, SOAN senior Elise Zeidman presented a paper as part of a session presenting undergraduate research, organized by Tara Hefferan (GVSU). Elise’s paper — Migrants Search For Asylum from Narco Violence — captivated the audience, and resonated with many other and papers at the conference this year.

My own paper, entitled An Ethnographic Assessment of Transnational Labor Migrants’ Experiences In Qatar’s Justice System, comprised a description of that recently-completed project and report, followed by a discussion of the reception of that report by an invited audience of policymakers, ministry officials, and other stakeholders in the Qatar Justice system.

The SfAA conference will be in Vancouver, BC next year, and we’re hoping for an even larger Puget Sound presence at that meeting.


Andrew and a Symposium at the American University of Kuwait

Hi all,

Over the last four days, I’ve been attending the Center for Gulf Studies‘ biannual KBEsymposium at the American University of Kuwait. The first symposium, held two years ago, convened around the theme of urbanization and urban form in the Gulf States. The second symposium (just concluded), centered on the concept of a knowledge-based development in the Gulf. The symposium included 26 papers and two roundtables, and altogether it was a fascinating and energetic meeting.

Farah Al-Nakib, the director of the Center for Gulf Studies (center) and several of the women from Madeenah

Farah Al-Nakib, the director of the Center for Gulf Studies (center) and several of the women from Madeenah

Most of the scholars who presented agree that the concept of knowledge-based development is a fuzzy one. In short, many of the Gulf States are pursuing the idea of a knowledge-based economy as an aspirational pathway through a post-hydrocarbon future. The concept is also the reason for the ongoing revisions of the educational systems and the presence of so many satellite campuses. The kernel of the idea of a knowledge-based economy is fairly radical as well: a purposive shift from economies based on the production of material goods to economies built around a truly renewable resource — human capital.

My paper (notably, a VERY rough draft) was entitled Gatekeepers, Imagineers, andAndrew Presentation the Development of Qatar’s Knowledge-Based Economy. In that paper, I contend that, in Qatar, the idea of a knowledge-based economy and society serves as the justification and lodestar for urban development in the present, that urban development is the keystone that holds together social relations in the rentier state, and that it underpins the unique demographic concoction of foreign workers and minority citizens we see in Qatar and elsewhere. Amidst that constellation of foreign communities, I discern and describe the role of gatekeepers, or cultural brokers of sorts, who leverage access to citizens and, ironically, imagine and purvey misconceptions about their values and norms. This draft of the paper is my first attempt to expand upon the ideas I briefly explored in Tokyo last September.

Photographs from the walking tour, including abandoned buildings and street amidst skyscrapers (left), interior stairs of a building now occupies by labor migrants (top right), and the architectural style typical of the 1980s (bottom right)

Photographs from the walking tour, including abandoned buildings and street amidst skyscrapers (left), interior stairs of a building now occupies by labor migrants (top right), and the architectural style typical of the 1980s (bottom right)

In addition to the excellent papers and a pair of interesting roundtable discussions, we also took a walking tour of Kuwait City led by three women from the organization called Madeenah. This organization is devoted to understanding and engaging the social and spatial history of the architecture and urban fabric of the city — mining a vein that is almost entirely unique in the Gulf States. The walking tour carried us to various aging modernist spaces in the city, as well as some of the abandoned interstitial spaces tucked between skyscrapers and shopping malls. It was a fascinating tour.

Now I’m sitting in airports on the long journey back home.


Catching Up With Ned Sherry, Class of ’13

We asked Ned Sherry to tell us a bit about what he’s up to, and with his graduate studies in mind, we asked him to describe how useful our department’s curriculum was in preparing him for his program. Here’s his reply.

Ned travels by train

Ned travels by train

It’s pretty incredible how often the tools I learned in the CSOC SOAN department come up in graduate school. I just finished my first semester as a Master of Public Health candidate at the University of Minnesota. I am concentrating in environmental infectious diseases, with an eye towards global health. I cannot say enough great things about the hard skills learned, like actually knowing what an ethnography is, how to write one, and mastering SAS. However, there’s another aspect from these four years that stands out. This piece was not taught in one class, but learned from years of practice in the department — a hanging motif throughout the SOAN curriculum that I was unaware of at the time. What I’m talking about is cultural competency and an energy for curiosity.

This is the drive that pushes us toward unknown exploration; while giving us the tools to know how to function once we are there. It is being aware of the constellation of factors that influence life, from political instability, socio-economic influences and even to individual relationships.

I have seen humanitarian international development groups that lack this competency and curiosity while studying global health. So often humanitarian health groups move into an area with mindset that they are the change that will improve an area’s health — operating with a paternalistic mindset, plowing through a people’s way of life, ignoring needs that do not fit the health group’s paradigm. But to really improve health, to create sustainable change, requires cultural competency.

What I am referencing goes beyond being open-minded and unprejudiced; it means anticipating your own biases and closed-mindedness, even when you’re not aware of them. It’s one thing to say and be open to new and diverse perspectives, but it is a different level to be able to recognize your own hidden judgments below your consciousness. This is the key that is driven home in SOAN department, a skill that I did not see surface until I had already graduated.

In the example of global health, cultural competency is being aware that your comprehension of a people is limited and ,in fact, probably wrong. This means listening to the individuals whose lives you are there to improve, working with them, not over them. When you are able to release your inner compass, borrowing one from the lives you are surrounded by, it is possible to achieve sustainable global health change.

These learned skills are not restricted to global health. Regardless if you take this skill abroad or utilize it in a new setting here in the United States, this training prepares you to problem-solve in situations where others feel uncomfortable and unprepared. As current members and alumni of this department we are individuals that are primed for curiosity and trained to thrive in new surroundings. The key is recognizing we possess the tools, using them in careers, relationships and everyday life.

That’s really great to hear, Ned. We hope to hear from you again in the coming years, and let us know if you ever return to this neck of the woods.

Dr. Denise Glover’s Band Releases New Album

Just before the end of fall semester, my band (Rosin in the Aire) and I welcomed our newest creation into the world: our second CD! It was a long project, having started (with recording) in July 2014; with five band members (that work full time) and a busy recording studio engineer (UPS alum and accordionist for the band Pearl Django, David Lange), it was challenging to coordinate schedules. The title of the album is Good Times in the Homeland, named after the two original cuts on the CD (our banjo player Allan Walton’s “Good Times in C” and my song, “The Homeland”).

As an anthropologist, I recognize the power of music in the cultural, social, and political lives of human communities. Music can convey powerful messages, and provide an important venue for various types of expression. As a musician, I feel grounded as a cultural being in the music that I create. And I use music to tell important stories about experiences that might resonate with others. I wrote the song “The Homeland” telling my great grandmother’s story of immigration, from Italy to the USA in 1914, and then the extended connections between my life (and my family here) and those of my relatives in Italy. Most of my life I wondered what it was like for my great grandmother (who I grew up with as my grandmother, since my actual grandmother—her daughter—had died before I was born) being an immigrant in New York. She was of southern European origin and a decade after she arrived immigration from southern and eastern European (among other places) was significantly restricted, by the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924. She was never able to return to her natal Italy and to see her family (most heart-wrenching, for me, her mother) again; such extravagant travel was not possible, and I suppose after a while became harder and harder to imagine as immigrants in the USA tried more and more to leave the “old world” behind, due to strong American expectations of assimilation. I wrote the song with all of that in mind, and with the line “I can’t go back to the way it used to be” to have multiple layers of meaning. I also wrote this song before I went to Italy to meet my relatives there for the first time, imagining our “reuniting” as a sort of family healing of the rupture that had occurred. I sing the chorus once in Italian, and dedicate the song to all immigrants who miss their homelands.

There is a variety of songs on the CD, from bluegrass classics like “Blue Night” to the traditional Mexican “La Llorona” to John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” to a rag, a waltz, and a jazz standard (“Sunny Side of the Street”). So, there is a track or two sure to please. It was a fun project, and so delightful to see/hear as a finished work.


More info:

Tristan Burger (SOAN ’09) and an Orphanage in Africa

Tristan Burger, a SOAN alumnus, and her partner are celebrating the one year anniversary of the orphanage they’ve established in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. They’ve just missed their fundraising goal, and as you can imagine, even small donations go a long way in the lives of the children they help. I’m pasting her request below.

Dear Friends,

fe9c3bd9-9786-4983-836f-0ba2073b6f4bI am proud to announce that Fred Gato has successfully established the Assured Future Orphanage in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo! Fred and I have been working together since 2011 to see his dream become reality. As of January 20th of this year, we will celebrate our year anniversary as a home to thirteen orphaned children in Bunagana, DRC.

AFO needs your support as we undertake the next step in our work to provide for these children. Please consider making a donation today and help us meet our goal of sustaining this remarkable haven in a war-torn area of the world. You will be providing a crucial financial endowment that will directly impact children’s lives within the DRC. You will be helping a people who, for over a decade, have been devastated by a war which has claimed more than 6 million lives.

An investment of just $25 helps to feed our 13 children for 1 month and $150 covers the rental cost of the AFO home for 6 months! Your gift at any level makes a difference. Please join us in achieving not just our goals, but in helping these children define and exceed theirs. Help us meet our fundraising goal of $1,500 by January 20th.
I should also remark that, despite my best efforts, we were unable to achieve 501(c)(3) tax-exemption status. Therefore, if you donate, your contribution will unfortunately not be tax-deductible.

Please send donations in my name
(Tristan Burger) to:

2857 Shadow Creek Dr
Apt 304
Boulder, CO 80303
with “AFO donation” in the memo line

If you would like more information on AFO, please visit our website at (you can make donations here, as well). And please ‘like’
our Facebook page at

We are grateful for your support of Assured Future Orphanage and our efforts to transform the DRC and beyond.


Tristan Burger and Fred Gato

P.s. If you know of anyone who might take an interest in our project, please feel free to forward this email along. Many thanks!

Green Corps paid positions for college graduates

We recently received this information from Green Corps. Note that the Winter application deadline is February 1, 2015. More information is available at the links below.


Green Corps is looking for college graduates who are ready to take on the biggest environmental challenges of our day. 

In Green Corps’ yearlong paid program, you’ll get intensive training in the skills you need to make a difference in the world. You’ll get hands-on experience fighting to solve urgent environmental problems — global warming, deforestation, water pollution, factory farming and many others — with groups like Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch. And when you graduate from Green Corps, we’ll help you find a career with one of the nation’s leading environmental and social change groups. 

For more information, read on or visit .

In your year with Green Corps: 

Be trained by the best: Green Corps organizers take part in trainings with leading figures in the environmental and social change movements: people like Adam Ruben, former political director and current board president of, and Bill McKibben, author and founder of

Gain experience across the country: Green Corps sends organizers to jumpstart campaigns for groups such as Rainforest Action Network, Power Shift, and Environment America in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and dozens of other places in between. 

Make an impact on today’s environmental challenges: Green Corps organizers have built the campaigns that helped keep the Arctic safe from drilling; led to new laws to support clean, renewable energy; convinced major corporations to stop dumping in our oceans; and much, much more. 

Get paid! Green Corps organizers earn a salary of $25,000. Organizers also have a chance to opt into our health care program with a pre-tax monthly salary deferral. We offer paid sick days and holidays, two weeks paid vacation and a student loan repayment program for those who qualify. 

Launch your career: Green Corps will help connect you to environmental and progressive groups that are looking for full-time staff to build their organizations and help them create social change and protect our environment.

Catching Up with Kendra Loebs, Class of ’06

Hi all,
A photograph from Kendra Loebs' Watson-project trip to India, 2006-2007.

A photograph from Kendra Loebs’ Watson-project trip to India, 2006-2007.

I asked Kendra Loebs, Puget Sound class of ’06, to tell me a little bit about what she’s been up to since graduating. Here’s a brief description of her interesting journey!

I graduated from Puget Sound in 2006 as a Biology major, but I dabbled heavily in the CSOC (now SOAN!) department, and Anthropology has always inspired me. Today I work as a Registered Nurse at the University of Washington specializing in stem cell transplant. Nursing is not a direction I had ever planned to go, but life is strange in that way and I couldn’t be happier with my career path!

I’ve always been particularly interested in medical anthropology and healthcare beliefs. My first year post-UPS found me traveling around the world (primarily to Morocco, India, and Thailand) as a Thomas J Watson fellow exploring this topic. I focused my Watson project around how traditional manual therapies such as massage fit into the larger healthcare landscapes of various countries. Once back in the US and after working in various medical settings, I decided to go back to school for a degree in nursing.

Cultural competence is a hugely important topic in the field of healthcare, and it’s growing ever more important as healthcare systems strive to make care more effective and relevant to diverse populations. I dove right into this world by working at Harborview as a nursing student. This hospital is well-known for serving a very diverse immigrant, homeless, psychiatric, and incarcerated population, in addition to being a top-notch trauma center. The experience was incredibly humbling and inspired me to learn more about culturally-sensitive care. With the support of my nursing professors, I performed a qualitative research project where I analyzed a program in which Harborview nurses follow the rigid rules of a diabetic lifestyle for just a few days to see how it influenced their understanding and perceptions of those who live with diabetes. Not surprisingly, standing in the shoes of individuals with a challenging chronic disease was an eye-opening and impactful experience for everyone who participated!

Being a nurse is similar in many ways to being an anthropologist, and I am grateful every day for my training in anthropology. Like anthropologists, nurses must quickly build trust and connection with those we serve. We often ask for very private information, sometimes from vulnerable people. We see the best and the worst of humanity. We are present for the most painful and joyful moments in the lives of strangers. We interact closely with people from all walks of life, and must consistently communicate effectively, professionally, personally, and sensitively with each of them.

Kendra at work at Harborview

Kendra at work at University of Washington Medical Center

As an RN at the UW I’ve had the opportunity to take graduate classes in public health and medical anthropology. One of the most relevant assignments I’ve completed was an investigation how nurses can most effectively support patients and families at the end of life using applied anthropological theory. I’ve also been able to utilize my skills as a volunteer RN for the Public Health Department’s Medical Reserve Corps. The most inspiring opportunities so far were working in a 2-day Veterans health fair and at the Seattle Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinic, which was a huge 4-day event that provided thousands of people with free health care, dental care, and vision care.

One day I hope to officially continue my education and become an Advanced Practice Nurse. I’m also very interested in teaching and doing more qualitative research someday. Fortunately, there are many possibilities to do all of this because nursing as a field is increasingly robust with opportunities to make a meaningful difference in the world. Though my path may have been winding, I am exceedingly grateful for the broad liberal arts education that I received at Puget Sound. The close relationships with professors and the questions that my studies there inspired have allowed me to recognize and actively pursue many exciting opportunities in my work as a nurse.

 It’s really great to hear from you, Kendra, and good luck with the next steps you describe!