About Gareth Barkin

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at the University of Puget Sound, Department of Sociology & Anthropology

Danya Axelrad-Hausman Wins Major Award


Danya receiving the Distinguished Undergraduate Student Paper award at the Pacific Sociological Association annual conference in Oakland, California.

Senior Danya Axelrad-Hausman has won the 2016 Pacific Sociological Association’s Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Student Paper for her senior thesis essay titled “Responses to Environmentalism and Environmental Policy as Mechanisms of Exclusion.” The PSA represents the entire U.S. West Coast and this award is given to only one student per year, so it represents a significant honor. Danya told us that she is very honored to have received the award, and had a great experience presenting her research at the PSA meetings.

Danya’s research focuses on how racial identity, gender, and other sociocultural factors influence environmental activism, and unpacks racialized constructs surrounding environmental purity. Danya shared her paper’s abstract with us:

Taking into account the unique sociocultural and sociopolitical climate that shapes the contemporary environmental justice discourse, this paper provides an account of the processes of identity formation that individuals and communities undergo when participating in environmental justice movements. Specifically, this research examines how socioeconomic status, race and gender influence participation in environmental justice advocacy. Through this approach I address the following questions: How are individuals and groups harnessing social and cultural factors, such as gender, socioeconomic status and racial identity, to drive activism? How does identity shape environmental activism and social movements, and how is environmental activism ultimately shaped by identity? Finally, I examine the policies and discourses that are shaped by racialized notions of environmental purity and ultimately reinforce systems of exclusion and marginalization. Through the examination of these driving questions I find that individual identity influences conceptions of the environment, environmentalism and structures of power. The construction of collective identity by environmental justice organization and activists connects the physical and social realities of environmental injustice. Finally, a perceived disconnect between the environmental movement and the environmental justice movement perpetuates a tangible disconnect and barrier to the environmental justice movement meeting its goals on an institutional level.


Visiting Historical Anthropologist talk on Ethnicity & Colonialism in Southeast Asia, Monday 4/4 @ 5pm


Interested in Southeast Asia, historical anthropology, colonialism, and/or ethnicity? Please come to this talk on Monday! Here are the details:

When & Where? April 4th at 5pm in Wyatt 109 

Who? Oliver Tappe, from the University of Cologne

What? Upland Encounters: Colonialism and sociopolitical transformations in the Lao-Vietnamese borderlands. 

Will refreshments be served? Refreshments WILL be served

At the turn of the 20th century, upland Indochina was an arena of political friction and complex intercultural dynamics. Once a contested frontier region between the lowland realms of the Vietnamese and Thai/Lao courts, the ethnically heterogeneous province of Houaphan (today NE Laos) constitutes an illustrative case study to investigate modern state formation and sociopolitical transformations. The presentation will focus especially on the interplay between the establishment of French colonial administration and local processes of resistance, adaptation, and mimetic appropriation.

Visit the Southeast Asia Symposium!

Hello, SOAN friends!

As part of Puget Sound’s new Southeast Asia programs, which are getting rolling this year, we have been putting together a symposium that will take place this Friday night (10/23) and all day Saturday (10/24), and which includes several events of interest to those of us who love anthropology and sociology. For example:

Professor Philip Dearden

Professor Philip Dearden

Friday at 6pm in Murray Boardroom we’ll have our keynote talk by Philip Dearden from University of Victoria, which will focus on cultural-based approaches to marine conservation around Thailand and mainland Southeast Asia. Dr. Dearden is a prolific and renowned scholar of marine ecology, so this talk promises to be excellent.


boat malaysia

Biodiversity and Conservation in Borneo fieldschool course

Saturday at noon in Murray Boardroom we’ll have our first group of student research presentations from folks involved in our 2015 LIASE field school. These students studied and conducted research on issues related to biodiversity and conservation in Malaysian Borneo last summer with Professor Peter Wimberger from EPDM.


PacRim 2014-15 group at Atma Jaya University, Yogyakarta Indonesia

PacRim 2014-15 group at Atma Jaya University, Yogyakarta Indonesia

Saturday at 1:45pm, also in Murray Boardroom, our second student panel will feature research presentations from students on our 2014-15 Pacific Rim Asia Study-Travel Program (PacRim), in which all students conduct in-depth independent study projects. Because I was directing the spring semester, we wound up spending a lot of time in Southeast Asia (including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam), and these presentations will reflect research done in those countries.

Professor Kontogeorgopoulos teaching at a water buffalo camp in Thailand

Professor Kontogeorgopoulos teaching at a water buffalo camp in Thailand

Interested in traveling to Southeast Asia as part of our Luce Foundation sponsored field school program your own self? At 3:30pm, Nick Kontogeorgopoulos will discuss his upcoming LIASE field school course,Political Economy of Southeast Asia (IPE 333), and distribute applications. The course includes three weeks studying ecological challenges through a cultural lens near Chiang Mai, Thailand, at the end of the semester.

Chaopraya Ensemble

Chaopraya Ensemble

Finally, who doesn’t love Thai music and dance? We’re honored to have Chaopraya Ensemble performing a selection of classical and folk pieces on Saturday at 7pm in the Rotunda. Drop by and check it out, it promises to be a really wonderful performance.






The full schedule and additional information
is here — feel free to come to one or all of these events (or some number in between), and invite your friends as well.

Hope to see you there!


Catching Up With Kira… (Wilpone-Jordan)

Kira at her desk at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.

Kira at her desk at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.

Kira Wilpone-Jordan graduated from the SOAN department (then CSOC) in 2010. One of our most distinguished graduates, she received the C.Wright Mills Award, the E. Ann Neel Award, the Distinguished Senior Thesis Award, the Distinguished Departmental Service Award, and perhaps most impressive, she won the Pacific Sociological Association’s Distinguished Undergraduate Paper award. She recently sent us this update on her post-Puget Sound career:

Greetings from Chicago![1]

Gareth recently asked me to update the SOAN Department on my life since graduating from Puget Sound in 2010. Reflecting back on the past five years, it is apparent that my time in the SOAN Department instilled in me the critical thinking and communication skills needed to pursue my graduate studies and career goals as a public interest housing attorney.

After graduating from Puget Sound, I moved to Chicago to pursue my graduate studies at the University of Chicago’s Masters in Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS). MAPSS, much like Puget Sound and the SOAN Department, is a program that promotes interdisciplinary studies. While in MAPSS, I studied the local implementation of Illinois’s state hate crime statute by Illinois’s county sheriff offices. My research focused on integrating the law and sociological theory to better understand how hierarchical administrative agencies impact individuals’ interactions with the law.

Although sociology had been my focus throughout undergrad and in my graduate studies, after graduate school I enrolled at the University of Chicago Law School. I was drawn to law school because of the impact the law has on the daily lives of individuals. Unfortunately, the impact of the law maps onto oppressive social structures. Therefore, individuals, who are most often ignored and discounted in our society, are more likely to have negative experiences with the law. However, my vision of what the law can and should be is best articulated by Justice O’Connor in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.  Laws should be “measured [by their] impact on those whose conduct it affects…. [The] proper focus…is the group for whom the law is a restriction, not the group for whom the law is irrelevant.

Kira with fellow alumni, Caitlin Wilpone-Jordan, 99 floors above Chicago at what she refers to as the 'What You Talkin’ About Willis’ Tower.

Kira with fellow alumni, Caitlin Wilpone-Jordan, 99 floors above Chicago at what she refers to as the ‘What You Talkin’ About Willis’ Tower.

Stemming in part from my graduate research, I wanted my legal work to be a mitigating force against oppressive structures. Thus while in law school, I focused my legal education on public interest legal advocacy. Specifically, I have focused my legal work in the field of housing law. As a public interest housing attorney and advocate, I provide legal representation to low-income renters experiencing eviction, substandard housing conditions, and landlord foreclosures. With the average eviction court proceeding in Chicago lasting under two minutes, low-income renters in Chicago are often unable to adequately represent themselves and their interests in a legal environment stacked against them.

This past June, I graduated from law school and accepted a fellowship position with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. Through my fellowship, I will be developing a medical-legal partnership with a social-safety net hospital in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. With one in six people living in poverty, researchers estimate that each of these individuals has between two and three civil legal needs—defined as social, financial, or environmental problems that can be addressed through civil legal aid—that negatively impact their health. As such, medical-legal partnerships aim to integrate legal representation into patient’s current healthcare network. Thus allowing for early civil legal intervention and improving the efficacy of patients’ current medical treatments plans.

Thank you SOAN for giving me this opportunity to share what a Puget Sound education engenders.


[1] Though if you are reading this anywhere between December and April, read as: “Chiberia.”

Bringing Southeast Asian Studies to Puget Sound

Over the last few weeks, you may have heard about some new opportunities to study Southeast Asia-related topics at Puget Sound, including Thai language. But just what’s going on with this program, and what can you expect to see in the future? Well, I’m glad you asked…

My first Indonesia trip at Puget Sound, with Professor Ben Lewin and SOAN (then CSOC) students including Delaney Height, Malorie Spreen, and Kadie Burton.

My first Indonesia trip at Puget Sound, with Professor Ben Lewin and SOAN (then CSOC) students including Delaney Height, Kadie Burton, and Kira Wilpone-Jordan. June, 2009.

Since I began teaching at Puget Sound in 2008, I have been taking groups of students on summer course-trips to Indonesia, where my research is based. I’ve been lucky to have had the help of SOAN professor Ben Lewin on three of these trips, which quickly became integrated into the curriculum back in Tacoma through SOAN 312, where we studied Southeast Asian cultural, linguistic, and environmental topics before departing to continue our coursework in-country. We’d also collaborated with Nick Kontogeorgopoulos in IPE to do a joint Indonesia-Thailand course trip. So when I heard from Associate Dean and SOAN professor Sunil Kukreja about an opportunity to apply for a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation that supported environmental initiatives in Asia, I immediately thought of the work we’d been doing, and the student excitement we’d encountered around faculty-led study abroad in Indonesia and Thailand.

Hang on there… what’s the Henry Luce Foundation?

Gareth Barkin in front of the Luce Memorial Chapel, on the campus of Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan.

Gareth Barkin in front of the Luce Memorial Chapel, on the campus of Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan.

The Luce Foundation was created by publisher Henry R. Luce to promote Asian studies, particularly in smaller, liberal arts institutions like ours. In prior years, the Luce Foundation provided grants to Puget Sound that created my position at the University, as well as that of Professor Kontogeorgopoulos, who conducts research in Thailand. So we knew they were supportive of Southeast Asian Studies on our campus, and that they valued the work we’ve done. When we learned of this new opportunity, Associate Dean Kukreja, Professor Kontogeorgopoulos and I collaborated with faculty from Environmental Policy and Decision Making to craft a proposal that focused on the expansion of our existing field-course model. This model involves a full semester of study on campus, including some language training, combined with an integrated abroad trip over the summer.

So they just gave you guys a big grant to continue doing that?

Students on the 2014 course-trip prepare to release some baby turtles who were part of a turtle 'head start' program. Tangkoko, June 2014.

Students on the 2014 course-trip prepare to release some baby turtles who were part of a turtle ‘head start’ program. Tangkoko, June 2014.

No, they did not. First, we applied for an exploration grant and undertook a pilot program to successfully demonstrate our concept, integrating a greater focus on environmental studies and collaboration with EPDM faculty. In addition to the pilot class, 2014’s SOAN 312, we started to explore some of the additional elements we wanted to bring to our program, and which we hoped the Luce Foundation would support. These included hiring a native speaker to teach the class Indonesian language, holding a workshop for faculty on experiential learning abroad, and bringing out guest speakers to engage the campus community in a discussion of Southeast Asian environmental topics. During the last week of the field course, Professor Peter Wimberger from the Biology Department and EPDM joined us in North Sulawesi, to help expand and strengthen our discussion of environmental and conservation issues.

This blog is already pretty long.. maybe just cut to the chase?

But there’s so much more to this story! Ok, fine, well the pilot project went really well, and we were even able to do a small-scale symposium, which will become a big part of our full implementation grant, which we were also awarded! Over the next four years, our new Southeast Asia Program will include a lot of great opportunities for SOAN majors, including:

  • Southeast Asian field schools—intensive student learning abroad, conducted with Asian partners and involving a full semester of on-campus study, plus three weeks of summer overseas research. Planned courses will fall in the SOAN, IPE, and EPDM departments.
  • Phased introduction of new Southeast Asian language courses, including Thai, Indonesian, and Malay, which currently are rarely taught as full-credit courses in Washington state, much less at liberal arts universities.
  • Grants for faculty members to explore and develop future Southeast Asian field schools or enhancements to the curriculum (which may influence your courses in the coming years)
  • An annual Southeast Asia Symposium that will draw international speakers and scholars from around the state, and that will be a resource center for Pacific Northwest partner colleges

What’s a symposium?

Southeast Asia Symposium

Students from the 2014 trip present their research at the first annual Southeast Asia Symposium. Participants included SOAN students Lenny Henderson, Chelsea Steiner, and Kasey Janousek.

Seriously? Okay, well this symposium is a forum that draws together the field schools, language classes, and faculty initiatives while placing a focus on reaching the campus community and infusing the knowledge gained from these programs throughout the university. In addition, symposia will bring together Southeast Asia scholars from around the Northwest along with speakers and artists from Southeast Asia in one three-day period that involves workshops, research panels, performances, and informational sessions. Organized around a central theme, the annual symposium compels students from our Southeast Asia field schools to reflect on and share their experiences and their research, to engage potential students with the next field school, and raise faculty interest in Southeast Asia.

Well, I’m sold! How can I take advantage of this tremendous opportunity?

SOAN major Elana Maslow shows off her freshly dried batik painting at BatikJolawe, Yogyakarta in February. Will there be batik at the 2015 Symposium? Come and find out!

SOAN major Elana Maslow shows off her freshly dried batik painting at BatikJolawe, Yogyakarta in February. Will there be batik at the 2015 Symposium? Come and find out!

That’s more like it. If you’re interested in Thailand, that will be next year’s focus, as Nick Kontogeorgopoulos leads a course-trip there in the spring/summer of 2016, and Thai language will be offered both fall and spring. There are still some spaces open in Thai 101 at the time of this writing, so consider enrolling!

Want to learn more? Come to the symposium this October 23-25, 2015! In addition to an exciting keynote talk and student presentations from Professor Wimberger’s course-trip to Malaysia that is currently underway, we’ll have panels with PacRim returnees who did Southeast Asia research, faculty participants from around the Northwest, and an information session for those interested in applying for the Thailand course. There will even be a tasty banquet and possibly some arts and/or crafts.

What if I’m really interested in these programs, but for some reason have no interest in Thailand?

Lucky for you, we plan to shift field-course destinations and topics as well as languages each year. In the next few years, we hope to return to Indonesia with SOAN 312 again, and to Malaysia, while offering Indonesian and Malay language courses on campus. For more information, be sure to check out the Southeast Asia Symposium & Programs website, and feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

See you at the Symposium!


Thai Language to be Offered at Puget Sound Next Year

Over the coming years, the University of Puget Sound will see a new engagement with Southeast Asia, thanks to a grant from the Luce Foundation, including new language offerings, on-campus programming, and faculty-led study abroad opportunities. Next year, Thai language will be offered for the first time (as far as I know) on our campus. We encourage SOAN students interested in the region to consider taking Thai 101 in the fall, and Thai 102 in the spring. The courses will count toward Puget Sound graduation requirements as well as the Asian Studies emphasis.

Thai 101 will be offered in Fall, 2015. We plan to offer Thai 102 in Spring, 2016

Thai 101 will be offered in Fall, 2015. We plan to offer Thai 102 in Spring, 2016

If you have any questions, please contact Gareth Barkin.

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