Dr. Yasser Elsheshtawy Lecture on Thursday

clippingGreetings all,

I’m happy to announce that we’ve been able to arrange for Dr. Yasser Elsheshtawy to deliver a lecture on campus next Thursday, thanks in part to the generosity of Tarbell Family Endowed Visiting Mentorship Fund. Dr. Elsheshtawy is a colleague and friend of mine, and certainly one of the leading scholars concerned with the junctures between urbanism, migration, architecture, and public space in contemporary Arabia. In my experience, his presentations are aesthetically impressive, methodologically innovative, and topically prescient. You can learn more about his work here, but be sure to join us for the lecture:

Transient Spaces: Home and Belonging in Dubai
Dr. Yasser Elsheshtawy
Thursday, March 1
Rasmussen Rotunda, Wheelock Center
4:30 – 6:00 PM
Yasser Poster 2
We hope to see you there!

SOAN Alumni Night on Feb 28

jpegHi all,

Come hear a panel of Sociology and Anthropology alumni speak to their diverse professional pursuits and the role that SOAN training played in paving their pathways into the fields of health sciences, education, and technology!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Wyatt Hall, Room 109, 6:00 PM

A Park Project in Tacoma

linnik 3This wonderful article from the latest issue of Arches magazine details the Zinna Linnik Project, Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, professor Monica DeHart’s contributions to that effort, SOAN alumnus Maggie Tweedy (2010) and her thesis project, student Mushawn Knowles (class of 2020), and quite a bit more! The first few paragraphs are here — then just follow the link to Arches for more.

A park project in Tacoma empowered underserved kids and gave them a safe place to play. When one of those kids turned up at Puget Sound a decade later, he showed that human connection is stronger than the lines that divide us. It was Mushawn’s idea to build the garden. He was proud of that. His fifth-grade class had been invited to help design the empty park next to their school, and while the other kids were dreaming up slides and swing sets, spray grounds to run through on hot summer days, monkey bars and mosaic tiles, Mushawn Knowles ’20 told the landscape architecture students who were creating the park model that he wanted to fee the homeless and hungry.


linnik 2

Mushawn Knowles (2020) and Maggie Tweedy (2010)

This was not an abstraction for a kid growing up in the Hilltop, Tacoma’s most underserved neighborhood—Mushawn had neighbors and friends in mind. So when he saw the garden sketched into the design plans for McCarver Park, it was a turning point for him. “I saw that I had a purpose, something that was bigger than me,” he says now, nine years later. “When I saw my idea manifest—that was empowering.”


Funded Research Opportunity in China


Wei Xing, editor of Sixth Tone

The English-language Chinese new site Sixth Tone recently announced funded research positions for the summer in China. Notably, they express a particular interest in anthropology and various environmental research themes, and clearly discern the close relationship between journalism and the social sciences. Have a look at the information they provide about the application process. The ability to speak Chinese is a prerequisite.

Here are the details provided:

The Sixth Tone Fellowship for field research is calling for applications.

What is the Sixth Tone Fellowship?

The Sixth Tone Fellowship is a field research program on contemporary China initiated and sponsored by Sixth Tone, an English-language news website based in Shanghai, China.

Through fresh takes on trending topics, in-depth features, and illuminating contributions, Sixth Tone covers issues from the perspectives of those most intimately involved to highlight the nuances and complexities of today’s China. In 2017, Sixth Tone won five SOPA (The Society of Publishers in Asia) awards for its excellent reporting on China.

At Sixth Tone, we believe that solid fieldwork and academic discussions are crucial to the work of reporting on China. That’s why we started the Sixth Tone Fellowship together with Fudan Development Institute, an outstanding research organization based in Shanghai. We encourage research into and understanding of China by young scholars from around the world, and we welcome inventive solutions to the challenges China is facing.

The Sixth Tone Fellowship will provide funding for 8 young scholars to come to China for a six weeks’ research trip and conduct fieldwork in locations all over the country.

Does the Sixth Tone Fellowship have a specific research agenda?

Every year, Sixth Tone will pose a fresh research question to young scholars from across the globe. Emphasis will be placed on topics at the cutting edge of Chinese society, including technological innovation, industry and the economy, youth culture, and societal change.

The research topic for the 2018 Sixth Tone Fellowship is “Technological Innovation and Rural China”.

Recently, Chinese technological innovation has attracted media interest from around the world. Meanwhile, the Chinese countryside continues to face significant challenges, such as poverty, depopulation, and backwardness. How can China use technology and innovative thinking to change the impoverished appearance of its vast countryside, improve the lives of its rural population, and close the gap between urban and rural areas?

We encourage applicants to frame their research proposal with the following fields in mind:

1)  E-commerce and the change of rural Chinese society

2)  Agricultural transformation in China

3)  Environmental protection in the countryside

4)  Big data and the transformation of industry in impoverished areas

Successful applicants will participate in a one-week group tour of several Chinese technology ventures and then be split into small groups by research theme and conduct fieldwork on selected topics for four weeks. Sixth Tone will cooperate with the Fudan Development Institute to facilitate academic support and find field site locations for the fellows. During the last week of the program fellows will return to Shanghai to give lectures and attend workshops.

Am I eligible?

This program is open to doctoral students and young scholars with less than five years’ research experience. We will not exclude applicants on the basis of nationality or academic field, although those with backgrounds in economics, sociology, anthropology and environmental science will be given preference for the 2018 fellowship. Applicants should possess a strong command of written English and spoken Chinese. An active presence on social media is a plus.

How much financial support will I receive as a fellow?

Sixth Tone will pay for a round trip airline ticket to Shanghai, all fieldwork related transportation costs incurred within China, as well as food, housing, and health insurance.

Are there any publication requirements?

While in China, each fellow will be responsible for writing at least two approximately 800-word commentary articles, to be published on the Sixth Tone Website. At the end of their fellowship, each of them must submit a 2,000-word policy report based on their fieldwork to both Sixth Tone and the Fudan Development Institute. In addition, fellows will give a seminar at the Fudan Development Institute, reporting on the results of their research. Fellows are encouraged to use their field notes in their future academic work.

What are the dates of the program?

May 20 to June 29, 2018

How to apply?

Applicants should send the following materials to fellowship@sixthtone.com.

1)    Personal resume (1 page)

2)    Two letters of recommendation

3)    Research proposal (4-6 pages, double-spaced)

4)    A writing sample.

Sixth Tone will invite a steering committee comprised of experts from the Fudan Development Institute to review candidates’ application materials and make the final selections.

What is the deadline for applications?

Applications will be reviewed starting March 1st, 2018. To receive full consideration, applications should be received by that date.

Borderlands Summer Research Experience for SOAN Students

Hi all,

While there are good opportunities for research via the Puget Sound AHSS Summer Research Program, my friend Dr. Joe Heyman (UTEP) just sent along this amazing opportunity for you to consider. Please drop by and chat with me if you’re interested!


The Immigration and Border Community:
Research Experience for Undergraduates

This is a unique opportunity to learn social science research methods while collaborating with local organizations to conduct in-depth research about the unique challenges faced by border communities in the Paso del Norte region of southern New Mexico, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez.

The U.S. Mexico border is currently at the center of political controversy, one that has threatened to further disrupt border cities that were once closely integrated. Immigration is an important part of the Paso del Norte region and the increase in border enforcement has significant impacts not only on those passing through the border, but those who live here as well. This is a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to learn social science research methods through hands-on collaboration with local organizations about border enforcement and its impacts on immigrants and border communities.

Work will be fully funded by the National Science Foundation and is an excellent opportunity for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree or a variety of career paths. By collaborating closely with organizations already involved in advocacy for civil and human rights, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Border Network for Human Rights, your work will have a greater impact. Sample topics include:

  • The impacts of repealing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • Alleged abuse and mistreatment of migrants and community members by law enforcement
  • Asylum seekers in the borderlands: Access to due process and basic human rights
  • “Know Your Rights” campaigns
  • The history of community organizing and leadership development in the borderlands

Successful applicants will spend 10 weeks in the El Paso/Las Cruces/Ciudad Juárez region during the summer (May 21-July 28, 2018). Positions are fully funded by the NSF. Students will receive a stipend of $5000 and meal expenses. In addition, students traveling from outside the region will receive accommodation and $500 towards their travel expenses. We will also have several excursions, including a one-week intensive field-trip through the Arizona/Sonora borderlands.

(Please note, because this is federally funded, there are citizenship/immigration limitations—very sorry.)

For more information please contact Neil Harvey, (575) 646-3220, nharvey@nmsu.edu or Jeremy Slack, (915) 747-6530 jmslack@utep.edu



Denise Glover on Karma in Tibetan Medicine

board_Board_DeniseThe SOAN department’s own Denise Glover recently delivered a lecture hosted by the Bioethics club here on campus, and the school’s newspaper provided this synopsis of the
event. Great work, Denise!

Compassion and Karma in Tibetan Medicine

By Angela Cookston

Denise Glover in the Sociology and Anthropology department gave a lecture hosted by the Bioethics Club on the concepts of compassion and karma in Tibetan medicine on Oct. 25.

Glover has done research in China’s Shangri-La province on the Tibetan medical industry and local knowledge of environment.

“Tibetan medicine, in particular, pulls a lot from Tibetan Buddhism,” Glover said. “So there are a lot of ideas that come from the religious tradition that are appropriated into the medical tradition. In fact, for a long time they weren’t really separate traditions at all.”

The medicinal tradition is based on indigenous knowledge of environment and written texts.

One of the most central texts is “The Four Tantras,” which was written mostly between the 11th and 12th centuries. “Doctors still use this,” Glover said. “It’s hard to find that kind of parallel in western medicine, for example. Who studies a text that old? They’re considered out of date. But in the Tibetan medical tradition, they’re seen as very central.”

Tibetan medicine uses Mahayana Buddhist figures as ideal images of what doctors should be. The Bodhisattva of Compassion, who are beings that could potentially reach enlightenment but choose to not to in order to help others, and the Medicine Buddha, who has all the knowledge of healing, are used in this way.

“In the medical tradition in Tibet, doctors are supposed to basically emulate this kind of being,” Glover said. “Not only do the doctors imagine themselves as the Medicine Buddha … but the patient will have to do a similar thing, which is to imagine the doctor as intricately connected to the medicine Buddha.”

Next, Tibetan medicine’s doctors see the body as a collection of three “humors.” “These things are considered as a combination of a substance and an energy,” Glover said.

The three humors are wind, bile and phlegm. “Each one of these is responsible for a different function in the body. So, for example, movement: wind is responsible for movement in the body. Bile is responsible for digestion. And phlegm is responsible for lubrication.”

When the three humors are balanced, a person is considered to be healthy. But an imbalance can cause problems.

In addition to causing physical problems, the humors can cause emotional or mental problems. “The humor of wind is linked to desire. Bile is linked to hatred. And phlegm is linked to closed-mindedness,” Glover said.

All of the humors have negative emotional effects on people. “In fact, you could argue from the Tibetan medical perspective that if you have a body, then you are likely to end up with some kind of imbalance,” Glover said. One could have too much desire, hatred and closed-mindedness.

“It’s almost like a very natural thing for people to get sick in this medical system,” Glover said. “It’s kind of different than other medical systems that state, you know, the natural state is a healthy state. Yeah, health is natural but so is illness in Tibetan medicine.”

The three humors can become imbalanced due to physical or emotional changes. Additionally, past negative actions, or bad karma, can cause illness.

“How can you tell if you’re sick because of humoral imbalance or because of karma?” Glover asked the room. “[Karma] is used to explain when things are not getting better. Like, the doctor is trying to figure out, trying to treat the patient and the treatments are not working.”

In Western medicine, this is similar to the concept of an idiopathic disease.

Tibetan medicine uses a slow-acting treatment process which can take months to heal the patient. If, after three different treatment plans, the patient is still ill, the doctor will diagnose their problem as karmic. Tibetan medicine doctors can’t treat karmic problems.

If a person is ill due to a karmic problem, they must go to a religious monk, who will help them attain spiritual balance once more. However, when the illness is due to karma from a past life, it is much more difficult and sometimes impossible to treat, since one can’t go back into their past life and fix the problem.

“To me what’s significant about these two ideas in Tibetan medicine is how both of these concepts really stress the agency of the patient. The patient actually has some responsibility in their own illness,” Glover said. “And then it also stresses, of course, the responsibility that the practitioner has to have good motivation. To really be wanting to help the person and not, for example, to be making a profit.”

Spotlight on the SOAN Department at UPS


Hi all,

I was recently asked to pen a description of the SOAN department, our curriculum, and how we go about training students in anthropology, for the newsletter of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA). As you may know, students from Puget Sound have regularly attended the annual conference of the SfAA, where they’ve received numerous accolades and prizes for their work.

In this brief article, I provide an overview of our program, and also feature our current crop of seniors and the impressive constellation of independent research projects they’ve now commenced.

Please check it out!