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Caleb Dawson, UC Berkeley, Education | "Black Interests, Institutional Commitments, and Gendered Configurations of Support in a Historically White University"

Caleb’s research examines how black folk differentially encounter antiblackness and cultivate life within and beyond historically white universities (HWUs) as simultaneous sites of education and employment. His ongoing comparative project employs in-depth interviewing and ethnographic observations to learn about (1) the desires that black undergraduates and staff bring to HWUs, (2) their perception of institutional commitments to diversity generally and black people specifically, and (3) the gendered configurations of support and institutional change on which black folk rely. This study advances a critique of the racialized neoliberalization of higher education and the gendered labor regimes on which institutional and collective survivance has been predicated.

Xavier Durham, UC Berkeley, Sociology

Xavier studies private policing (i.e. security guards) in the United States, examining the reproduction of class, gender, racial inequality, three trends of social control that are ever-present in the policing literature. Comparatively, little is known about the role private police play in these trends given their lack of organizational transparency and persistent, legal fragmentation. Furthermore, they pose unique questions about the economic, political, and symbolic dimensions of policing in contemporary society. With the University of Chicago as his field site, he is looking at allegations of discrimination, violence, and other rights violations related to University police misconduct from 2005 onward, noting the augmented interactions with marginalized communities within a jurisdiction that is majority white. At the dissertation level, Xavier hopes to expand the project to incorporate the newly-formed police force at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a city whose rates of violence against marginalized communities are comparable and equally troubling.

Benjamin Fields, UC Berkeley, Sociology

Benjamin's current research project is on the institutionalization of the African American diet, and if there are disparities in appropriate food systems and subsequent health outcomes. He is exploring the historical trajectory of food that African Americans have eaten since their first contact with Europeans back in the early 1600s, and how different forces rooted in slavery, racial subjugation, and neoliberal effects have shaped the diet up until today. His analysis includes exploring the current cultural conception of the diet, what foods African Americans are actually eating, what social and cultural implications there are for the changes and contemporary state of their food system, and what effects diet has had on their health.

Vianney A. Gavilanes, UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Education | “Newcomer' Students: Educational Possibilities in the Empire of Freedom”

Vianney’s research seeks to disrupt the objectifying study of Central American migrant and refugee youth by shifting the intellectual gaze from individuals to systems inflected with power asymmetries. Drawing on migration and critical refugee studies in relation to the U.S. settler colonial state as a bestower of freedom unto racialized others (empire of freedom), her project theorizes the educative work of such bestowing of freedom through a critical pedagogical analysis of multicultural discourses. She draws from ethnographic data collected over 12 months at Madison High school and its newcomer (migrant and refugee) program Global House in a California city. Using a multi-scalar methodological approach, she triangulates three spheres of data: a) participant observations in two focal newcomer classrooms; b) in-depth semi-structured interviews with teachers and staff; and c) document analysis of district and city policies on newcomers, classroom handouts, and Global House presentation materials.

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? 

Zhuofan Li, University of Arizona, Sociology

Zhuofan's research examines scientific knowledge production in emerging research-intensive industries and data-driven sciences. He is collecting network and interview data for his dissertation project on how the career trajectories and publishing practices of computer vision researchers coevolve between industry and academia over time and between China and the United States. His other projects explore (1) machine learning models for textual, network, and visual data, (2) the future of qualitative and mixed-method research in the era of computational social science, (3) time, space, and body in social networks, and (4) how temporality mediates capital conversion and activation in temporally unsettled fields such as terminal cancer. 

Meghna Mukherjee, UC Berkeley, Sociology

Meghna’s research questions the gendered and cultural issues that arise alongside the advancements in fertility and genetic technologies. Currently, she is completing her Master's thesis, "How Do You Want Your Eggs? Kin-Making in the Clinic and Social Reproduction in Kolkata, India and the Bay Area of the United States." Employing ethnographic methods and in-depth interviewing, this thesis is a comparative study of the medical management surrounding donor-assisted family building and its effects on reinforcing dominant race and class-based social inequalities. 

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

Josh Neff is a UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program (JMP) student in his last of six years of medical/graduate school. Over the last four years his research has focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating "structural competency" trainings for a wide variety of health professionals (pilot effort described here). To accomplish this work, for the duration of this research Josh has co-led the Structural Competency Working Group - a group of clinicians, scholars, community health activists, and graduate students ( affiliated with ISSI’s Berkeley Center for Social Medicine. Last year Josh postponed his final year of medical school to expand on this research, developing a multi-session curriculum that delves deeper into various components of structural competency, including structural racism and the (mis)use of race in medicine, the structural influences on the practice of healthcare, and strategies for social change. 

Prami Sengupta, UC Irvine, Social Ecology

Prami’s research investigates the dynamics of the interactions between climate and capitalism. Specifically, it explores the contradiction and interdependence between the natural environment and market economy as manifested within and across multinational corporations and environmental activist organizations in the U.S. Deploying mixed methods, Prami intends to (i) model temporal interaction patterns between the environment and the economy, (ii) identify challenges and outcomes associated with these interactions, and (iii) propose measures via which organizations can simultaneously attain their environmental and financial goals. To this end, her research develops and analyzes a unique multi-source database that comprises of panel data on corporate financial turnovers and environmental footprint, text data extracted from newspaper articles on environmental activism and corporate environmental practices, and interview data of environmental activists and corporate sustainable managers. Ultimately, Prami’s research aims to advance the understanding of collaborative solutions to environmental governance and policy problems.

Natasha Shannon, UC Berkeley, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Natasha’s research focuses on the sociocultural dimensions of regenerative agriculture communities and practices. She asks how farmers, consumers, and other alternative agriculture practitioners are defining, practicing, and presenting regenerative agriculture within the context of the U.S.’s dominant capitalist agrifood paradigm. In addition to understanding the social construction of regenerative agriculture, Natasha’s work looks at who is being included and excluded from this community and how these patterns relate to racial, economic, and geographical disparities. To explore these patterns and the cultural construction of regenerative agriculture, Natasha’s fieldwork will take place in South Central Appalachia, complicating narratives of the region and critically examining the relationship between rural dispossession and movements toward regenerative agriculture. Broadly, her work sits within disciplines of rural sociology, environmental anthropology, and political ecology.

Zoe Silverman, UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Education

Zoe is a museum educator and a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences and Human Development cluster at the Graduate School of Education. Her current project engages ethnographic methods and discourse analysis to explore the epistemic ideologies of emerging museum educators at a university art museum. Specifically, this project examines 1) how dispositions toward inquiry are manifested in a university museum tour guide training program, 2) how student educators express and enact their epistemological beliefs about arts learning explicitly through elicitation and implicitly through their gallery teaching practice, and 3) to what extent do these dispositions toward inquiry transfer across domains and contexts. As unpaid internships are being phased out across the museum sector and volunteer docent programs grapple with structural issues of equity and diversity, paid university student tour guide programs are emerging as an equitable solution to meet the public education missions of both universities and their art museums. Broadly, this research aims to contribute to field-wide dialogues about the epistemic ideologies of gallery education, the professional identities of museum educators, and equity in museum education labor.

Luis Edward Tenorio, UC Berkeley, Sociology | "Legalization, Relief and Deportability: Unaccompanied Minors in the United States in the Obama and Trump Era"

Drawing from participant observations of legal cases of Central American unaccompanied minors through a New York legal services organization from 2014-2018, my research analyzes the evolving landscape of immigration policy, practice and relief and its impact on minors, their families, and the immigration practitioners working on their cases.

Emily Fjaellen Thompson, UC Berkeley, Anthropology

Emily's research examines state-sponsored memory spaces in Latin America as well as vernacular or “unofficial” memorials. Her work is focused on the afterlives of the internal armed conflict in Peru, with special attention to how Indigenous Quechua communities in the regions most impacted create and maintain spaces of memory. She explores how memory art lends itself to alternative expressions of narrative ruptures and how engagements with documentary photography in particular inform our understandings of everyday life in the aftermath of trauma.

David C. Turner III, UC Berkeley, Education 

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.

Skyler Wang, UC Berkeley Sociology | "A Numbers Game: Online Dating in Shanghai and New York"
My research explores how singles make decisions on ‘when to commit’ in the age of digital romance. Singles today often bemoan that online dating has reduced romantic pursuits to a quantitative project, or as many would call it, a ‘numbers game.’ They say that dating apps have made an overwhelming amount of people available at the touch of their fingertips, but knowing when to stop 'relationshopping' and start 'relationshipping' has become a great source of disquietude. The paradox of choice, fobo ('fear of a better option'), and ‘the-next-best-thing-ism’ are all terms that describe the same cultural anxiety. Taking my research to metropoles such as Shanghai and New York, I ask: how do people respond to and/or play the numbers game? Furthermore, how do the technologization, commercialization, and quantification of one of life’s most intimate affairs shape modern understandings of selfhood and relationality? And more importantly, how do such social forces manifest and vary cross borders?

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