Graduate Students

Emine Fidan Elcioglu, UC Berkeley, Sociology | "Immigration and the Politics of Belonging"

How do legally privileged activists—US citizens and permanent residents—understand and mobilize around immigration? By integrating 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Arizona, as well as interviews and archival research, this research examines immigration expansionism and restrictionism in relation to each other. I show that the study of the worldviews of opposing movements can illuminate the nature of underlying social structures--in this case, the main contradictions of globalization and how the punitive arm of the American state tries to address them.

Neil Gong, UCLA, Sociology | "Empowerment, Responsibility and Authority in LA's Public Mental Health System"

My research investigates the institutional matrix of responsibility and authority in American community mental health care by examining how psychiatric patients, family members, and mental health workers negotiate treatment decisions and expectations of daily living in downtown Los Angeles. In particular, I am interested in how discourses of psychiatric patient "empowerment" and "recovery" are enacted when workers and family members believe such patient/client/consumers to be ill-equipped to make rational decisions. In the specific context of contested urban space, I also consider the way political pressures to manage visible madness enable and constrain novel collaborations between law enforcement, mental health workers, kin networks, and the patients/clients/consumers they aim to "partner" with.

Molly Hales, UC Berkeley-UCSF, Medical Anthropology | Title TBD

My research explores contemporary American mourning practices, with a focus on relations between the living and the dead made possible by new technologies of virtual persistence such as Facebook pages, memorialization websites, and digital archives of the dead. 

Cole Hansen, UC Berkeley-UCSF, Medical Anthropology | “Seeking Care in the Carceral Shadow”

My research examines the process of community reentry for men leaving a county jail and explores emerging interconnections of health care and incarceration formed through Medicaid expansion to indigent adult populations.

Christopher Herring, UC Berkeley, Sociology | "Managing Marginality: Homeless Regulation and Survival in San Francisco"

This dissertation examines the restructuring of homeless policy under the federally mandated “10-year plans to end homelessness” in San Francisco through a double-edged ethnography: drawing from one year of fieldwork living on the streets and SRO's alongside those experiencing homelessness and one year working alongside social workers, clinicians, volunteers, police officers, and community organizers attempting to assist homeless people

Ina Kelleher, UC Berkeley, African American Studies | "Weeping Mothers, Fallen Sons": The Politics of Mourning Urban Violence

This project analyses how grief and mourning are experienced and performed, both publically and privately, by mothers who lose their children to urban violence. The purpose of this research study is to understand how mothers who lose their children to urban violence negotiate their roles as public figures. What are the challenges that accompany mourning a private loss publically? To what extent are mothers able to use this platform to their advantage politically, economically, and personally? And finally, what kinds of emotional labor accompany this experience? 

Roi Livne, UC Berkeley, Sociology | "Dying, Economized: Palliative Care and the U.S. Moral Economy of Dying"

Dying, Economized is a sociological account of the intersection between morality and economics in U.S. end-of-life care. It is based on ethnographic and historical analyses of palliative care – a new medical subspecialty, which is today the main designated discipline that treats dying and potentially dying patients in U.S. hospitals. The manuscript analyzes the emergence of end-of-life care as a professional, moral, and economic field, and the efforts of the clinicians active in this field to reconcile the tensions it engrains. The manuscript’s first part explains how since the 1960s, dying has gradually become a social problem, which requires specific medical and policy interventions and poses distinctive medical, ethical, economic, and political challenges. The manuscript’s second part draws on an ethnographic study conducted in three California palliative care services and on 80 in-depth interviews with clinicians of various professions and specialties, whose work pertains to the treatment of dying patients. This part analyzes how palliative care clinicians negotiate the tension between conflicting economic interests, clinicians’ ethical inclination to respect patients’ wishes, and clinicians’ wish to do the right thing medically and ethically. Through this mixed-methods approach, the manuscript illuminates the role that new forms of expertise play in defining the relationship between moral and economic life in one of the most ethically challenging areas in modern medicine.

Joshua Neff, UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program | "Structurally Competent: Integrating Social Medicine into Clinical Training"

My research explores how to promote healthcare providers’ “structural competency”—their awareness of the social, political, and economic influences on the health of patients and the clinical encounter, as well as their knowledge of possible ways to respond to these influences. For my dissertation I am working with the Critical Social Medicine Working Group to design, implement, and evaluate pilot structural competency workshops at the Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency program and UCSF's HEAL Initiative global health fellowship.

Miguel Pérez Ahumada, UC Berkeley, Anthropology | "Becoming Subjects and Urban Citizens in the City’s Peripheries: Contemporary Struggles for Housing in Santiago, Chile."

My research analyzes ethnographically the rise and development of housing mobilizations in Santiago, Chile. In particular, I examine how pobladores’ (poor inhabitants) demand for the right to housing, to the city, and to “life with dignity” (vida digna) not only questions current neoliberal urban policies but also contributes to the formation of political subjectivities among working-class dwellers living in peripheral areas.

Melanie Plasencia, UC Berkeley, Ethnic Studies | Title TBD

My research incorporates popular debates on aging, race and inequality, across the human sciences, in order to explore the experiences of the elderly who cohabitate or take on primary caretaking responsibilities of their grandchildren as a result of social dislocations within concentrated poverty neighborhoods.

Christyna Serrano, UC Berkeley, Education | "The Cultural Political Economy of School Lunch and the Welfare State:  A Case Study of Education Policy Implementation."

My dissertation research is a qualitative case study of the implementation of a Federal policy -- the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act -- at the local level -- the Oakland Unified School District. I situate this work within the overlapping realms of schooling, education policy, and the welfare state, and draw on food systems and contemporary education policy implementation literature. I use Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a theoretical and analytic framework to explore the dialectic between structure and agency and the negotiation of power as local actors use education policy and schools to pursue social justice agendas.

Benjamin Shestakofsky, UC Berkeley, Sociology | "The Labor of Markets."

My research bridges scholarship in the sociology of work and economic sociology, examining how a broker firm mobilizes a global labor force to accomplish the invention, reproduction, and transformation of an online marketplace. 

Alisa Szatrowski, UC Berkeley, Sociology | "School Success: A Comparative Ethnography of High Schools Serving Low-Income Students."

This dissertation identifies practices that are most effective with low-income students through a comparative ethnography of a high achieving and average high school matched on size, low-income population and demographics. Conducted over two years, observations include classroom visits, informal school time, teacher collaboration, department meetings and leadership team meetings. Findings highlight the organizational features that facilitate success in schools in terms of high graduation and college attendance rates for a substantial population of low-income students.

David C. Turner III, UC Berkeley, Education | Title TBD

I am interested in youth activism and civic engagement. More specifically, I am interested in how youth of color materialize social change. Through activist ethnography as an mode of inquiry and a political project, I would like to challenge conventional notions of "empowerment" and investigate what youth do to produce real differences (such as community gardens, local policies, etc.) in their communities.

Anthony WrightUC Berkeley-UCSF, Medical Anthropology | Title TBD

I am interested in the political, economic, and affective dynamics of pediatric cancer diagnosis and treatment in Michoacán, México. Pediatric cancer is an increasingly curable condition, but the unequal distribution of biomedical knowledge and resources along lines of race, class, and nationality ensures that some children are more likely to have successful treatment outcomes than others. In Michoacán, there are few pediatric oncologists or oncological facilities, meaning that many children and their families must travel long distances in order to receive care. Furthermore, since Mexican national health coverage is tied to a formal position of employment, many families lack insurance to cover the costs of treatment, and so they must put forth a great deal of effort securing various forms of support. Through long-term ethnographic fieldwork I will explore how children and their loved ones confront these realities, particularly in the midst of the violence and instability of contemporary Mexico. I am also interested in how cancer diagnosis and treatment reshapes families: How does the reality of cancer affect familial attachments, expectations, and obligations?  

Katherine Zubovich, UC Berkeley, History | "Moscow Monumental: Skyscrapers and Urban Life in the Stalin-Era Metropolis"

My research explores the effects of a skyscraper mega-project on the everyday lives of people living in Moscow during the late Stalin era. I examine how a city-wide construction project undertaken in the 1940s-50s shaped, and in turn was shaped by, social and political forces in the capital of the USSR. I am particularly interested in piecing together bureaucratic processes and design decisions (history from above) with the everyday lived experiences of urban inhabitants and workers (history from below). I aim to do this by incorporating a diverse and often contradictory array of archival sources and voices, from meeting minutes and official decrees to photographs, diaries, and letters written by both ordinary and elite Muscovites appealing to the state. Despite the unique character of Stalin-era politics and society, the processes of rapid urbanization, urban displacement, and unequal access to housing and other urban services that I examine in my dissertation have strong analogues to other historical and contemporary cases.