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!



SOAN Fall Mixer, this Thursday!

Hi all,

The SOAN department, in conjunction with the SOAN student club, will host its Fall mixer this Thursday. Learn more about the SOAN major and minor, hear about research opportunities, meet other students, ask about the courses offered in the Spring, and grab some free food. Here are the details:

What: SOAN Fall Mixer
Where: Tahoma Room
When: 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Thursday October 27

We hope to see you there!


SOAN Students at the SfAA Meeting in Vancouver

Hi all,

Five students from the SOAN department recently returned from the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) in Vancouver, Canada. The SfAA is the second largest society in anthropology, and connects a variety of academic anthropologists with practitioners in the fields of international development, education, public health, conservation, and much more.


Marshall Glass

In addition to attending numerous sessions at the conference, all five students participated in the conference’s large and energetic poster session.

Marshall Glass (’16) presented a poster about the research agenda he first began exploring in SOAN 299: Ethnographic Methods, and has now carried into the research-based senior thesis track offered by the department. His poster and project, entitled A Survey of the Differing Experiences and Culture Present among Various Realms of the Narcotics World, fit well in the thematic foci that coalesce at the SfAA.


Carolynn Hammen

Carolynn Hammen (’16) also presented a poster about her senior thesis project currently underway. Her project and poster, entitled Understanding the Latino Paradox: An Ethnographic Exploration of Cultural Preservation in Relation to Health, is perfectly located at the juncture between migration studies and public health — the culmination of the research interests she’s developed in the SOAN department. She’s currently wrapping up the fieldwork portion of this project in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area!

Sam Carp (’17) presented a poster about the project he completed in SOAN 299: Ethnographic


Sam Carp

Methods. His project and poster, entitled Relationships to Food: How Technological Limitations Inspire Individual Responsibility, explored how food choices shift as a result of technological limitations — in this case, how the separation between cars and residences at Tacoma’s Salmon Beach impacts individual decisions about food. His paper, and Sam’s broader research agenda, finds the synergy between the methods and topics of SOAN and a concern with our environmental future.


Elena Becker


Elena Becker (’17) presented a poster about her AHSS summer research project in Malaysian Borneo. That poster and project, entitled Cultural Authenticity and the Impacts of Cultural Tourism in Malaysian Borneo, used an ethnographic methodology to look at cultural tourism in Borneo — work that is described in more detail here. This poster was presented in addition to the paper she presented earlier the same day.

Finally, Kathryn Stutz (’17) presented a poster about the project she conducted in SOAN 299: Ethnographic Methods. That project, entitled Native Identity in Pacific Northwest Coast


Kathryn Stutz and her prize-winning poster

Museums and Cultural Institutions, revisited some of the issues described by historian James Clifford in his pathbreaking work about Northwest museums and the presentation of indigeneity. Congrats to Kathryn for her excellent work!

At the poster session, students were able to network with a variety of anthropologists and other social scientists. Russel Bernard even stopped by to check out their posters! Several students received offers to publish their work, and others were able to survey the possibilities for Masters and PhD programs for their coming years. Finally, after an amazing and impressive day for Puget Sound students, we had a celebratory dinner at Sura Korean Restaurant.


The aforementioned celebratory dinner at Sura.


Elena and Kathryn talking with Dr. Diane Austin, Director of the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology (and my advisor in graduate school …) at the SfAA’s Sustaining Fellows reception in the hotel’s penthouse suite.

SOAN Spring Info Mixer

Hi all,

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the SOAN Club are hosting the pre-registration Spring Info Mixer tonight, from 4:00 – 5:30 pm in the Rotunda. This is a great opportunity to explore SOAN as a possible major or minor, to hear about some of the research opportunities in the department, and to hear a bit about the courses that will be offered in the Spring semester. It will also be an opportunity to meet some of the other students in the department and to chat with some of the SOAN professors. There will even be some food provided. We hope to see you there!

SOAN Dept Mixer[1]

SBOH: The Salmon Beach Oral History project

Hi all,

Those of you who’ve taken SOAN 299: Ethnographic Methods recently are already aware of this project, but over the first few weeks of summer I had the time to pull some initial interviews together and post them on their own blog. Here’s a brief description, and you can have a look at the initial iteration of the page here:

SBOH headerThe purpose of any oral history project is, at least, to build a compendium of stories, perspectives, and experiences told by those who lived it. That is this project’s core purpose. We build this compendium semester by semester, with small groups of students from an Ethnographic Methods course at the University of Puget Sound. These students loosely guide interview/conversations to thematic waypoints that the class determines to explore. From that angle, the Salmon Beach Oral History project provides multiple pathways by which the history of this truly unique community can be explored.

The community of Salmon Beach traces its roots back over a hundred years. What started as fishing shacks congregated around a boathouse became weekend and summer camps and cabins. Those cabins became cottages, electricity arrived, and decades of growth and change ensued. Through those decades, cottages grew upward and outward, summer cabins became homes, and the history of the present became more clear. Equally of note, automobiles are a ten minute walk up more than 200 stairs. Those stairs ascend a bluff that constantly threatens property owners. Property comprises a small strip of beach and houses on posts over the tidal zone of Puget Sound. Collective organization of the community is a structural necessity: utilities, the legal framework of ownership, and the management of communal spaces require it.

For the time being, the oral history interviews and other materials are housed here. The process of migrating these materials to the institutional safety of the Collins Library at the University of Puget Sound is under discussion. In both manifestations, this compendium will be publicly available. Anyone interested in exploring the particular experiences of this unique community is welcome.

Andrew Gardner, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Puget Sound, April 2015

The Salmon Beach Oral History project commenced in September of 2014. The curriculum at the University of Puget Sound’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) requires all students to explore the craft and techniques of the interview. By orienting this perennial assignment to the collection of oral history interviews about life — past and present — in the Salmon Beach community, SOAN students are steadily building a substantial archive of knowledge about this fascinating community.


The 2015 Senior Thesis Poster Session

IMG_5991Hi all,

On Friday, ten SOAN seniors presented their work at the annual Senior Thesis Poster Session. The event was very well attended, and included two of our alumni from years past — Aliyah Simcoff and Sarah Plummer. The students’ theses are currently under final revision. Here’s a list of the ten seniors who pursued the optional thesis in our reconfigured curriculum:

  • Mason Constantino Empowerment Through Care: An Ethnographic Examination of a Youth Gardening and Experiential Learning Program in Tacoma, WA
  • Logan explaining his project

    Logan explaining his project

    Logan Day Complicating Common Misperceptions of Muslims: An Ethnographic Exploration of the Media-driven Public Perception of Muslims and Arabs 

  • Kara Flynn Public History, Archives, and the Role of the Institution: The Salmon Beach Community
  • Chelsea Harris “A church on every corner, a coffee shop on every corner”: A Study of Two Evangelical Christian Organizations Within the Tacoma Faith Market
  • Chelsea describing her project

    Chelsea describing her project

    Kasey Janousek The Fashionista’s Dilemma: Personal Identity vs. Conformity Through the Vehicle of Fashion Trends

  • Edward Jones Transformational Festivals as Intentional Communities: Redefining Festivals Through the Experiences of Volunteers
  • Reilly Rosbotham Imagining the Wild: Changing Definitions of Wilderness and their Impact on the Designation and Management of Wild Sky
  • Ali Smith Anti-Trafficking Organizations: A Washington State Perspective
  • Elise Zeidman Narco-Violence, Migration, Detention, and Asylum: An Ethnographic Exploration of Mexican Migrant Pathways
Students and faculty concluded the day with a social at E9

Students and faculty concluded the day with a social at E9

Later that evening, students and faculty retired to E9 for our traditional end-of-the-semester SOAN social.




SOAN Senior Thesis Poster Session

SOAN Senior Thesis WordleHi all,

The ten SOAN seniors who pursued independent thesis projects over the last academic year will be presenting their work at the annual SOAN Senior Thesis Poster Session. Come explore their diverse and interesting projects! Food and drink will be provided, and the details are as follows:

SOAN Senior Thesis Poster Session
Friday, May 1, 2015
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Location: Trimble Forum

We hope to see you there!