New Publication: Cars and Car Culture in Qatar

A young Qatari man, in a Landcruiser, at the "VIP" entrance to Villaggio mall in Doha, Qatar

A young Qatari man, in a Landcruiser, at the “VIP” entrance to Villaggio mall in Doha, Qatar

Hi all,

So I have a new publication to announce: a essay/book chapter entitled Cars and Car Culture in Contemporary Qatar.

As I’ve noted in numerous other posts to the SOAN blog, between 2008 and 2010 I taught in the Department of Social Sciences at Qatar University. I had many wonderful students there, and over those two years I supervised numerous research projects that incorporated those students’ fledgling ethnographic efforts. One overarching and exploratory theme focused on the permutations of consumer culture that are seemingly part-and-parcel of this small country’s extraordinary wealth and the state’s system for distributing portions of that wealth to its citizenry. Momina Zakzouk was one of my students in a course entitled Sustainable Development, and later that year I supervised her independent research project. In our small team’s larger exploration of Qatar’s consumer culture, Momina decided to focus on cars and the culture that surrounds them in Qatar.

"Dune-bashing" in the hinterlands of Qatar

“Dune-bashing” in the hinterlands of Qatar

Using semi-structured interviews and a bit of participant-observation (an impressive ethnographic feat for a young woman in somewhat gender-segregated Arabia), Momina used this project to explore this car culture. In crafting this essay, we followed numerous interesting threads in that data set, and incorporated some of my own ethnographic data as well. We discerned how cars mark social class and a citizenship-infused notion of belonging in Qatar: some cars mark you as a foreign resident, while others clearly indicate Qatari citizenship. We discuss how Toyota Landcruisers, seemingly at the symbolic apex of this car culture, are the lodestar by which almost all other vehicles are assessed. Car models and colors also have gendered implications, with the most common choices being black and white — not unlike the garments that Qatari men and women wear. And we explore how vehicles are central in the articulation of an alternative, bedouin-influenced identity that contrasted in many ways with the masculinities more broadly purveyed amongst the citizenry.

Lamborghinis and other expensive vehicles arrive by plane in Doha

Flying cars! Lamborghinis and other expensive vehicles arrive by plane in Doha

We’re both excited to announce our article’s publication. It’s a chapter in the new, third edition of Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East (Indiana University Press)a reader that’s widely used in university classrooms here and abroad. Momina is currently a master’s student at the University of Warwick, where’s she’s a sociology student in the Science, Media and Public Policy program. And we’re both grateful to the editors — Donna Lee Bowen, Evelyn A. Early, and Becky Schulthies — for all their help in getting this essay and book to publication.



Reilly Rosbotham’s Senior Thesis Project

ReillyPeople can’t seem to agree on the meaning of the word “wilderness,” and even the “official” definition laid out in the Wilderness Act of 1964 has been interpreted in many different ways. For my senior thesis, I plan to study the numerous definitions that people have for wilderness, and why many people care about protecting and conserving this wilderness. In short, what makes a place wild, and why is that a desirable quality?

I am also interested in how wilderness areas are managed. The need for wilderness management, an oxymoronic term, arises from the fact that human impact is  universal on our planet, and extends even to officially designated wilderness area. The issue of how to go about this management is also contentious—some argue that any management at all makes these areas less wild. I am looking for a connection between the ways that wilderness is defined and valued, and the way that wilderness is managed.

To do this, I hope to talk to those people who have championed the cause of wilderness designation in western Washington, and evaluate their differing definitions of the term. Presumably, what these key actors value in wilderness has had an effect on which areas have been officially designated, how these areas have been protected, and to what extent these areas have been managed. Through a study of protection guidelines and management policies for a collection of wilderness areas in western Washington, I hope to find how these people’s ideas of wilderness have played out on the ground. At the risk of going too far out on a limb, it is my belief that there are better ways of managing wilderness than others—while the object of my thesis project is not to commend or reproach different ways of managing wilderness, I want to evaluate the definitions and values that inform the actions that have already been taken to manage these areas.

[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.]

On The Table: Cultural Appropriation and Appreciation

Cultural Appropriation FB CoverLouisa Raitt, a senior in SOAN and president of Lighthouse, organized this event in conjunction with Lighthouse Christian Fellowship. Here are the details:

On The Table
Tuesday November 18, at 7:30pm
Basement Lounge of Kilworth Chapel

Louisa added that: We will be hosting an open, interfaith dinner and discussion and this month’s topic is Cultural Appropriation and Appreciation. The goal of this conversation is to examine how our personal cultural identities have been appropriated, as well as how we’ve each been complicit in appropriation. We’re also going to be looking at how meaning is lost, gained, created, and defined when cultural elements are co-opted by other cultures. This is an interfaith event hosted by Lighthouse Christian Fellowship but open to the campus community (faculty and staff included). Despite it being an interfaith event in nature, the questions and discussion will allow for all in attendance to participate and contribute. Hope to see you all there!

“Say Goodbye to All That: Emerging From Turbulence at Boeing”

Say Goodbye to All That
Emerging From Turbulence at Boeing

SOAN Professor Emeritus Leon Grunberg and Sarah Moore give a free, public talk

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13 in the Tahoma Room, Commencement Hall

lrg_leon-grunberg-sarah-moore-oct-14The Boeing Company was founded in 1916 in Seattle, and over the course of the century the company grew substantially.  With humble beginnings, Boeing was famous for its loyalty, and support toward the familial relationship that it had with its employees.  The company was exemplary of “traditional values,” but in many ways tells “the story of corporate America,” in its transformation over recent decades into a business more concerned with short-term returns.

Professor Emeritus of Sociology Leon Grundberg and Professor Sarah Moore of the Department of Psychology have been conducting research on Boeing Commercial Airplanes since 1996.  They have been interviewing employees of the company regarding its corporate shift over the past 20 years, and have co-written one book.  They are currently working on their second, which is focused on the variety of ways that both new and veteran employees have integrated with Boeing curing its “post-merger culture”.

Tonight, Grundberg and Moore will be sharing aspects of their research as they deliver the University of Puget Sound Regester Lecture.  Their presentation is titled “Say Goodbye to All That: Emerging From Turbulence at Boeing,” and will take place in the Tahoma Room, Commencement Hall, at 7:30pm.

Brownbag Lecture #1 Recording

In case you missed Wednesday’s event, here is the recording of Professor Gardner’s presentation titled “Sustainability and Urban Development in the Worlding Cities of the Arabian Gulf,” as well as the associated slideshow:

We’ll be releasing more information about the next lecture in the Brownbag series soon, so be sure to stay connected to the SOAN blog or follow us on Facebook.

Andrew Gardner kicks off SOAN Brownbag Series

We are starting a Sociology & Anthropology brownbag series in which department faculty and invited guests will informally discuss their recent research with the SOAN campus community, including majors, minors, or just students with an interest in the topic, as well as faculty colleagues. Dr. Andrew Gardner will start off the series with a talk on sustainability and urban development in the Arabian Gulf. Our format will be a talk of about 20 minutes, and then another 20 minutes of questions and discussion. We hope you’ll join us for this and future brownbag talks!

When: 12pm, Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
Where: McIntyre 107

andrew brownbag poster