SOAN Students and Faculty Win Major Research Awards at PSA’s 2017 Conference

SOAN students and faculty have for many years presented their research at the Pacific Sociological Association’s (PSA) Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting, held in Portland, April 6-9, 2017, was no exception. Besides four SOAN faculty participating in the conference, five SOAN students presented their original senior thesis research, including Kylie Young, Lizzy Chao, Annie Krepack, Leonard Henderson, and Allison Nasson, with each receiving in-depth feedback from faculty discussants and participants at their roundtables. We are proud of each of our SOAN students, who presented fascinating research on topics as diverse as “farmwives” and changing gender identities in rural communities, parental control over school lunches, hip-hop in global and local settings, and more.

This year we are also pleased to share the exciting news that SOAN major Allison Nasson and SOAN Associate Professor of Sociology Jennifer Utrata won two major research awards announced at PSA. These awards are significant given that the PSA, the oldest of sociology’s regional associations, includes sociology departments from the entire Pacific region of North America, including California, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alberta in Canada, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska, Wyoming, and more, with only one recipient in each award category.

At the Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony on Friday evening, Allison Nasson, a senior SOAN student, won the 2017 Distinguished Undergraduate Student Paper Award for her paper entitled “Donor-Friendly Victimhood: Narrative Construction as a Fundraising Strategy.” The paper, lauded for its high professional quality, and building on her summer research award work, examines how personal narratives have become a key fundraising tool for nonprofits as they compete for attention and funding. It argues that studying the selection, manipulation, and circulation of these stories provides insight into which identities are being privileged, whose stories are going untold, and the potential ramifications of these trends.

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SOAN senior Allison Nasson receiving the 2017 PSA Undergraduate Student Paper Award from Dr. Kposowa, Awards Committee Chair and Professor of Sociology, UC-Riverside.

We are impressed by Allison’s achievement, and cannot help but feel some SOAN pride more generally given that this is the second consecutive year and the fifth time in the past decade that a Puget Sound SOAN student has won one of these highly competitive undergraduate student paper awards.

At the same awards ceremony, Jennifer Utrata, Associate Professor of Sociology in the SOAN Department, was awarded the 2017 PSA Distinguished Scholarship Award for her book, Women without Men: Single Mothers and Family Change in the New Russia (Cornell, 2015). The award recognizes major intellectual contributions embodied in a recently published book or a series of at least three articles on a common theme.

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Prof. Jennifer Utrata receiving the PSA Distinguished Scholarship Award from Dr. Judith Hennessy, Central Washington University.

Utrata’s book illuminates Russia’s “quiet revolution” in family life through examining the puzzle of how single motherhood, frequently seen as a social problem in other contexts, became taken for granted in Russia. The ambitious book uses the Russian case of growing single motherhood during the transition to capitalism to think theoretically and critically about assumptions in U.S.-focused scholarship on family change, poverty, and gender relations. Last year her book won the other coast’s major award, the Eastern Sociological Society’s Mirra Komarovsky Book Award.

Traditionally SOAN faculty presenting research, organizing sessions, or serving as discussants on panels gather together with student presenters over dinner. This year we had plenty of celebratory toasts and discussions, and we look forward to gathering together in future years with students presenting their original research.

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SOAN Sociology Professors and students gathered for dinner at PSA: Jason Struna (and adorable son!), Kylie Young, Lizzy Chao, Annie Krepack, Jennifer Utrata, Ben Lewin, John Parker (Arizona State), and Leonard Henderson.

Would you like to join us at next year’s PSA? Are you interested in learning more about the SOAN major and its opportunities for conducting, and presenting, independent research? Then be sure to drop by the SOAN Research Symposium, to be held this Friday, April 21st from 3:30-5:30 in the Tahoma Room…all are welcome, refreshments provided.

Congratulations to Allison Nasson, Prof. Utrata, and all of the students and faculty who participated in this year’s PSA!

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SOAN Major Elena Becker Wins 1st Place at the SfAA Student Poster Competition

We are very pleased to share the news that SOAN major Elena Becker (’17) has won first place at the 2017 Society for Applied Anthropology’s Student Poster Competition in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her winning poster, titled Impacts of Development Discourse on Appropriate Technology “Solutions,” drew on fieldwork conducted in Madagascar, which was subsequently developed into her SOAN and Honors Program thesis. In addition to the stiff competition from her SOAN peers, the SfAA’s Student Poster Competition draws entrants from colleges and universities across the country and beyond, including many graduate students, so winning first place is an extremely impressive accomplishment. We asked Elena to describe her research and experience attending the SfAA conference:

Elena Becker with her poster at the Society for Applied Anthropology conference.

When I went to Madagascar to study abroad in 2015 I had a vague idea that my required, month-long research would somehow involve rural to urban migrations and the preservation of cultural practices in cities. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. When I actually got to Antananarivo I started noticing small, metal cookstoves littering the streets. These stoves (called fatapera) were sold on every corner, used in street food stalls, and fired up in middle-class homes three times a day. Their omnipresence piqued my interest, and I ultimately focused my research on how researchers can apply characteristics of traditional stoves to alternative models in order to increase the latter’s popularity.

I re-appropriated this fieldwork when it came time to write my senior thesis in the fall of 2016. Although I kept my focus on the cookstove case study, I created a new framework for it, this time focusing on the way that development organizations (inaccurately) imagine and engage with the Global South as they develop and distribute technologies that they imagine to be “appropriate” for those spaces. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to present this research in poster form at the 2017 Society for Applied Anthropology conference in Santa Fe, NM. As I’ve found in previous years, this was a great opportunity to meet other students, engage with professional anthropologists, and to get feedback on my work and I left the conference with lots of exciting ideas and new directions to explore!

Congratulations on receiving this well-deserved recognition for your insightful work, Elena!

-Gareth

Puget Sound SOAN Students at the Society for Applied Anthropology meeting in Santa Fe

Hi all,

Over the past decade, SOAN students have been a regular feature at the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). The SfAA uniquely convenes academic anthropologists with a constellation of ‘practitioners’ — anthropologists who use their degree(s) to work in international development, public health, international development, the non-profit sector, and a variety of other areas. This year, the annual meeting was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Seven students participated in the poster session, which provided them the opportunity to present their research and receive feedback from numerous conference attendees. And as usual, our students’ research widely impressed the anthropologists at the conference. Here’s a quick list of the Puget Sound students’ poster titles.

Elena Augustine’s project, Pro-Life Direct Activists’ Affect on Planned Parenthood Patients and Employees, explored how pro-life activism shapes clinic dynamics and defense tactics in the greater Tacoma area.

Elena Becker’s project, Impacts of Development Discourse on Appropriate Technology “Solutions,” distilled her fieldwork in Madagascar and her subsequent senior thesis work into a critique of the contemporary development paradigm.

Maria Birrell presented her senior thesis project, entitled Applying Feminist Theory to Indigenous Archaeology, which explores how feminist archaeological theory has reshaped the practice of archaeological fieldwork in the Pacific Northwest.

Sam Carp’s summer research exploring agricultural practices in Ghana, further extrapolated for his senior thesis, was distilled in his project poster, entitled, Understanding the Role of Subsistence Farming in a Developing Nation. In that project, Sam emphasizes the food security role of local markets and subsistence farming.

Emma Erler’s project, A Forged Dichotomy between Biomedicine and Traditional Healing Practices: An Ethnographic Study of Sikkim Dichotomy, builds on her ethnographic research during her semester abroad in India, exploring the dialectic between the biomedical paradigm and traditional, historic healing practices in India.

Kathryn Stutz’s project, Transnational Museum Networks Passing Through Qatar: The Balance of Communication, Curation, and Culture, distilled her AHSS summer research project in Qatar amidst the astonishing bloom of new museums there. This project examines some o the complex processes and relations discernible in the the process of establishing these museums, their exhibit, and their content.

Ariel Ziegler’s senior project, entitled National Parks for All?: Exploration of African American Accessibility of US National Parks, uses an ethnographic methodology to explore differential access to America’s archipelago of national parks.

As noted, Puget Sound has established a perennial footprint at the Society for Applied Anthropology, and these students’ work set the pace for the annual poster session. Congrats to all involved for another successful conference.

Andrew