Charlotte Parker, SOAN Class of 2018, Fulbright Scholar!

Hi all,

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Charlotte Parker on a previous trip to Taiwan

As noted in our previous post, the Department of Sociology and Anthropologywas pleased to learn that two of our graduating seniors had been awarded Fulbright scholarships for the coming year. The Fulbright program has long endeavored to connect America with the diverse cultures of our world by funding Americans’ time abroad. Indeed, several faculty in the SOAN department began their careers with a Fulbright cultural exchange. We asked Charlotte Parker, one of our two awardees, to tell us a little bit about what the Fulbright award has in store for her. Here’s Charlotte’s response:

大家好!My name is Charlotte and I will be traveling to Taiwan in August of 2018 on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). While in Taiwan I will be living in a city called Changhua (彰化) located in the center of Taiwan. Just an hour away from Taiwan’s two largest cities, I will be living and working in the most densely populated county in Taiwan! I am especially excited to be working in Changhua because this is the first year a Taiwan ETA will be placed there! Although many details are still to come from Fulbright, I will be working alongside a Lead English Teacher (LET) instructing a class of elementary or middle school students. I also plan to maintain a steady diet of bubble tea (which was invented in Taiwan!), spiced tea eggs, and soup dumplings!

Changhua Photo

A temple in Changhua

I also really value my experiences in the SOAN department at University of Puget Sound. As a SOAN major with a Chinese minor, I spent the last four years learning about the connections between language, culture, and identity. My interests concern linguistic anthropology, where questions regarding how language shapes our interactions and our perceptions of the world are explored. Taking SOAN classes also helped me think critically about my responsibility as a teacher and as a cultural ambassador. I feel very strongly that it is my responsibility to explore how we as anthropologists can work to improve the quality of life for those around us. 

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Charlotte (lower right, center) walking a dachshund through verdant Taiwanese pastures

In addition to my experience in the SOAN department, I have spent the last four years teaching Spanish and Chinese at a number of local Tacoma and Gig Harbor schools. Because language is my passion, I am very excited to continue sharing this passion with young students. During my time in Taiwan, I hope to gain a better understanding of the Taiwanese education system, and to bring this knowledge back home so that the American education system can continue growing and improving. Additionally, I have spent the last few years training as a marathon runner in Tacoma, and I hope to join a local running team while in Taiwan. If all goes well, I will also run in the Wulai Gorge Marathon in January 2019! I am very much looking forward to this upcoming year and all the experiences to be had during my time in Taiwan!


Charlotte, we’re so very proud of you, and we’ll be in touch again for an update from Taiwan.


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Charlotte and friends in Taiwan


Hannah Borgerson, SOAN Class of 2018, Fulbright Scholar!

Hi all,


Hannah Borgerson (lower right, center) blending in with the local fauna

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology was pleased to learn that two of our graduating seniors had been awarded Fulbright scholarships for the coming year. The Fulbright program has long endeavored to connect America with the diverse cultures of our world by funding Americans’ time abroad. Indeed, several faculty in the SOAN department began their careers with a Fulbright cultural exchange. We asked Hannah Borgerson, one of our two awardees, to tell us a little bit about what the Fulbright award has in store for her. Here’s Hannah’s response:

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be traveling to Argentina in March 2019 as a Fulbright scholar with an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) grant. What exactly my time in Argentina will look like is still up in the air. Because March is almost a year away, I don’t yet know what city I’ll be living in or at what school I’ll be teaching. However, I do know that Argentina ETA grant recipients are appointed to assist in English teacher-training colleges or universities –- which means I’ll be working with young students like me who are also interested in education and language learning.

Hannah Photo

Hannah in front of impressively ornate banos

As a SOAN major with an emphasis in Education Studies and a minor in Spanish, I’ve studied education in relation to questions of institutional inequality as well as transformative pedagogy. Classes here at UPS have sparked my curiosity in the cultural implications of language learning for older youth and adults, and I am therefore honored to get the opportunity to work with language learning and teaching methodologies in another country. While I know that my skills as a native English speaker will be useful in the classroom, I’m also confident that the students I interact with will have much to teach me about their experiences with language teaching and learning, and for this I couldn’t be more exited.

Outside of the classroom, I hope to engage with all that the Argentinian community has to offer. Two things that I’m eager to learn more about while abroad are dance and geography. The first may seem fairly obvious – Argentina is known for their seductive yet sassy tango dance. When done well, this dance gracefully portrays lovers’ most romantic moment as well as their worst fight. However, when I attempt the tango, I look like a frazzled ostrich … this is something I hope will change with time and practice.  

In terms of geography, I imagine there is much to explore. As any good cultural geographer would tell you, culture is both influences and shapes the place it inhabits. While in Argentina, I hope to gain a better sense of place of the area I’m assigned by listening to the stories and histories of the community. Particularly, I have great interest in exploring the economic, cultural and political impact that the Rio de la Plata has had on the city of Buenos Aires. This body of water has a rich trade history that has affected commercial relations between four prominent South American nations — Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Currently, the river region is is facing major energy policy alterations due the proposed deconstruction of hydroelectric plants in the La Plata basin. Not to mention, there is a bridge called Puente de la Mujer (bridge of the woman) just off one of the river’s deltas –- and I just adore bridges. Yet there is a chance I will placed somewhere other than Buenos Aires, and if so, there are probably other fascinating bridges, bodies of water, and places to experience! Adventure awaits, I suppose.

It sounds like you have an amazing adventure in front of you, Hannah. We’re so happy for you, wish you the best of luck, and we’ll be in touch next year to hear about how it’s going in Argentina.


Informational Meeting for New Course

dscf5312.jpgHi all,

Just in case you missed the posters up around campus, Professor Robin Jacobson and I have organized an informational meeting tomorrow about the new course we’ll offer in the Spring of 2019 — CONN 397: Migration and the Global City. Here’s the key information:

Migrants and the Global City: Informational MeetingIMG_3056
Wednesday March 28, 2018
2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Wyatt 226

At this meeting, we’ll review our basic plan and outline some of the additional costs associated with this course. In this course, we’ll be exploring migrants’ experiences in diverse global cities, the policies that shape those experiences, and how other nations grapple with the migrations and mobilities that characterize our contemporary world. Over Spring break, we’ll travel to Doha, Qatar — a truly fascinating city on the frontier of global modernity. At the conclusion of the semester, we’ll travel to Amsterdam to explore how that city continues to accommodate newcomers after several centuries of doing so.

We hope to see you there!





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

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.

A New Course on the Horizon — CONN 397: Migrants and the Global City


Nepalese migrants on the waterfront corniche, with the gleaming skyscraper of Doha’s West Bay in the background

Hi all,

Professor Robin Jacobson and I are planning a new course for the Spring of 2019. The tentative title for the course is Migrants and the Global City, and while much of the course will happen on campus, it also includes trips to both Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Doha, Qatar. We intend to hold an interest meeting for students in February, so please look for our forthcoming announcement. But in the meantime, Robin and I have just finished scouting the possibilities for students in Qatar. While this is all still fresh in my mind (I’m on the plane home now), let me provide a glimpse of some of the activities we have in mind.


Deep in the bowels of Souq Waqif

Architecture, urban space, and urban planning are a fascinating topic of study in Qatar. We’ll visit the ultra modern West Bay with a diverse set of glowing high rises ringed by the water. In contrast, we’ll stay in Souq Waqif, a revitalized Middle Eastern bazaar in the historic center of the city. It’s an impressive and bustling public space, worthy of attention itself, but walk a few blocks and more contrasts await. Robin and I wandered from the glittering streets of the Souq, scrubbed by migrants on hands and knees every morning, to the broken, trash-filled sidewalks of the nearby neighborhood where such workers might live. As Qatari citizens suburbanized in decades past, the core of the old city was abandoned to the legions of low wage foreign workers who make up a majority of the current population. In Qatar, migrants make up almost 90% of the total population, and while


A villa in the center city, abandoned to foreign migrants in years past as Qatari citizens moved to the suburbs

they work everywhere, many of them reside offstage from the impressive city. In the Industrial Area, on the fringes of the city, labor camps fill the horizons, and on their day off, migrants from around the Indian Ocean gather to shop, eat, and socialize. Robin and I met with some old friends of mine and they drove us to a labor camp and the market area that workers frequent on their single day off in their work week. We hope to arrange a lunch where each student gets to meet a transnational labor migrant and learn a little bit more about their lives and experiences, and to see some of the Industrial Area. Migrants are everywhere you look, and they make use of the city in their own ways. Students will be able to experience and explore the energy they bring to the urban landscape, and the diversity that makes up this small Gulf State.


For midday prayer on Friday, hundreds of muslim foreign workers pray on the city streets

Students will also get to talk with others who live, work, and study in Qatar. We had the pleasure to meet with scholars and those working for the government in various capacities. Students will get to connect with their peers at one of the many universities in the city, officials at the Ministry of Urban Planning, and Museum curators. In museums, the state oftentimes presents and codifies its national narrative — the stories nations tell themselves about themselves. In the Msheireb Museums, we encountered the stories Qatar has to tell about slavery, abolished in 1952, and about the transition from an economy based on pearls to one based on oil. We want our students to engage and explore those narratives, and to assess how the nation thinks about the integration of migrants into the stories it tells about itself.

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In the heart of the Industrial Area, thousands of foreign workers gather on Friday to shop, socialize, and connect with friends from home

If you’ve never been to the Middle East, this trip is going to reshape the way you think about the region. You’ll be safer than you are in America, and you’ll have an opportunity to engage with a sort of diversity that makes America look provincial. And Doha’s only half of our plan, as we’re also going to be traveling to Amsterdam!

If this might be of interest to you, look for our forthcoming announcement for a February student interest meeting.




A Qatari traditional band rollicking on the cobblestones of Souq Waqif. Note the bagpipes — an instrument that traces its roots deep in Middle Eastern history.

Emily Katz’s Senior Thesis Project

[Seniors in the SOAN department have the opportunity of pursuing a field-based research project that culminates in a senior thesis. I’ve asked our seniors to briefly describe the research project they are beginning to configure for fieldwork in the remainder of our academic year.]

When I think about how I learned about sex and communication, there are specific moments and conversations that stick out to me – moments that shaped the way I thought, what I perceived as normal, and my understanding of where I stood in relation to this “normal.” I find this process – the collection of moments and stories and facts that make up a person’s understanding of sex, their body, and their sexuality – particularly intriguing because of the way it influences how people engage in sexual interactions. As a member of Peer Allies, a group of twenty students on campus who focus on sexual IMG_4178assault support, prevention, and education, I spend a lot of my time working to understand why sexual assault happens. The longer I’ve been involved, the more I’ve come to realize that although we cannot do anything to ensure we, or someone we love, will not be sexually assaulted, we can take small steps to change our culture that allows it to happen so frequently and so normally. In order to change this culture, I believe we need to be shifting the way we learn about and talk about sex and communication. In American culture, this is particularly complicated, as we live in a society that is made up of many ethnicities, religions, and cultures, yet we often privilege only a small portion of these – especially throughout our public education systems.

For my senior thesis, I plan to investigate how the process of learning about sex and communication for people of different cultural identities (within American society) affects their conceptions of consent. How do we learn to engage in sexual interactions, and perhaps more important, how do we learn to communicate during them? How does this affect the quality and safety of these interactions? What roles do power and privilege play? I want to look into the intersection of formal and informal avenues of the learning process by comparing the education high school students receive in school to what they are receiving at home, and specifically how that differs across cultural identities. Ultimately, how does this process affect people’s conception of consent?

For this project, I will be focusing on how high school students learn about sex here in Tacoma. Although Washington state law requires HIV prevention education, as well as age-appropriate, “medically accurate sexual health education” (Washington State Learning Standards), and just this year implemented new health standards guidelines that include education surrounding gender identity, healthy relationships, and consent, districts are still able to interpret and implement the guidelines however they feel is appropriate. This means that the quality and depth of sex education greatly varies across the state. I will focus my time interviewing high school students, primarily 16-18 years old, in the Tacoma Public School system. Throughout this process, I will be conducting semi-structured interviews, as well as using visual methodology to map out how they learned about their bodies, sex, sexuality, and consent. I plan to sit in on sex education classes in various high schools across Tacoma whenever I’m allowed, as well as analyze the sex education materials used in these classes.


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!