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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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!
Our third annual Southeast Asia Symposium, which takes place this Friday and Saturday, will incorporate programming of interest to folks from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives, but particularly those interested in anthropology, ethnomusicology, and art. The events are free and open to the public.
The symposium is the centerpiece of our Southeast Asia Program, and provides a forum for undergraduates who have participated in our LIASE fieldschool courses to share their research with the broader campus community, while also serving as a forum for Northwest scholars whose research or pedagogy addresses Southeast Asian environmental and cultural topics to come together and collaborate. This year marks our first faculty panel on Southeast Asia’s role in the liberal arts, which includes three anthropologists discussing topics ranging from gender to music to mediation of distance.
The symposium takes place this October 28-29, with keynote talks on both evenings: on Friday the 28th, renowned environmental anthropologist Peter Brosius will speak on his pioneering work on cultural approaches to conservation and environmental activism.
On Saturday the 29th, Arahmaiani, an internationally known Indonesian performance artist, women’s rights activist, and political dissident, will discuss her work and career.
The symposium concludes Saturday evening with a free performance of Indonesian music by the Northwest’s premiere Javanese music ensemble, Gamelan Pacifica, in Rasmussen Rotunda.
The full schedule is available online here, with links to more information on each event. We hope to see you there!
Wednesday, October 12th at 4pm in Murray Boardroom
The Puget Sound LIASE Southeast Asia Program offers a field course each spring and summer, involving a semester of study on campus, and then a subsidized trip to Indonesia at the end of the semester (mid-May to early June). The 2017 Southeast Asia field school course is SOAN 312, which will be taught by Gareth Barkin, and which is cross-listed with Global Development Studies and Asian Studies. The course will cover the anthropology of Southeast Asia with a focus on Indonesian cultural and environmental topics. Those interested must complete an application, as there is usually competition for available spaces in the course. Students who are accepted to the course will attend class throughout the spring semester, and then travel to Central Java, Indonesia, for a three-week period of intensive, experiential learning, cultural socialization, and individual research projects.
Come to the interest meeting to learn more about the application process, the course focus, subsidized trip expenses, the timeline, and the abroad experience in Indonesia.
The University of Puget Sound’s Southeast Asia programming is made possible with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, via the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE).
The SOAN Club invites you to come celebrate the end of a great semester!
On Friday, May 13th we’ll be hosting an informal gathering at Andrew Gardner’s house (cabin 56) at Salmon Beach to wrap up this academic year. Feel free to drift in and out any time between 4 and 8pm. If your family is in town you’re welcome to bring them too! The more the merrier.
Salmon Beach is about fifteen minutes away by car, and at least one SOAN club leader will be driving. If you’d like to come but need a ride email Elena Becker at email@example.com to coordinate. If you want to drive yourself and you have never been to the Beach before, shoot Andrew (firstname.lastname@example.org) a quick email for directions and parking instructions. It’s pretty straightforward, but you’ll need a code for the gate. And while we’ll have a few snacks around, you should bring your own food or drink.
Congratulations on making it to May, and we’ll see you on the 13th!
Note from Andrew: Carpool if you can, bring something if you want!