Author: Malley, Mary

Ruth Braunstein: Meanings of Democracy Lab Launched

We are excited to announce the launch of the Meanings of Democracy Lab, founded and directed by UConn sociologist Dr. Ruth Braunstein. Several big questions animate how Americans engage in civic and political life: Who counts as a “real” American? What is required of a “good” citizen? Is American democracy flourishing or floundering? In today’s deeply polarized America, the answers to these questions depend on who you ask, but the ways that different people answer them matter for us all.

The newly launched Meanings of Democracy Lab engages students and partners in collaborative research on and discussion about the contested moral and cultural foundations of American democratic life. Current projects focus on the moral meanings of taxpaying and on battles over the roles of race and religion in American identity and history.

If you are interested in participating in or collaborating with the Meanings of Democracy Lab, email Dr. Ruth Braunstein at ruth.braunstein@uconn.edu.

Manisha Desai: A Global Treaty to End Violence Against Women

Professor Manisha Desai moderated the webinar "A Global Treaty to End Violence Against Women: Why Now?" on July 28, 2021. The webinar discussed the origins and process that led to the draft of a global treaty to end violence against women, the inadequacy of the current conventions, and the current advocacy and mobilization to bring it to the floor of the UN general assembly.

Flyer for the webinar "A Global Treaty to End Violence Against Women: Why Now?" 28 July, 2021. 1 PM EST. The webinar will discuss the origins and process that led to the draft of a global treaty to end violence against women, the inadequacy of the current conventions and the current advocacy and mobilization to bring it to the floor of the UN general assebmly. Participants: Marina Psiklakova Parker, Jane Hodges, and Antoinetta Elia. Moderator: Manisha Desai,

Alumna Diana Taurasi (2005) Heading to Tokyo Olympics

Former Huskies teammates Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm and Diana Taurasi [Sociology 2005] of the Phoenix Mercury will try to win a record fifth Olympic gold medal with USA veterans Tina Charles of the Washington Mystics (2012, 2015 Olympic gold), and Breanna Stewart of the Storm (2016 Olympic gold), along with Olympic rookie Napheesa Collier of the Minnesota Lynx. Jennifer Rizzotti, president of the Connecticut Sun and long-time USA Women’s Basketball coach, is an assistant for head coach Dawn Staley of the University of South Carolina, a three-time Olympic gold medalist.

 

Read the full article of all 16 Huskies headed to Tokyo for the Olympic Summer Games in UConn Today.

In Solidarity and Struggle for Social Justice

Even as we were grappling with the systemic racism laid bare by the COVID pandemic in the disproportionate loss of life in African America, Latinx, and Native communities and the targeting of Asian American communities, we are confronted by the more brutal expression of this enduring racism in the recent murder of George Floyd by four police officers, the killing of Ahmaud Aubrey while jogging by two white men, the shooting of Breoanna Taylor in her own home by police, and killing of Tony McDade, a transgender man also by police, among many others. We write to express our outrage and grief, recognizing the renewed pain and trauma to members of our own communities already struggling with the pandemic and the everyday forms of racism.

 

As Sociologists, we’re well equipped to understand the structural, institutional, policy, and interpersonal relations that reproduce systemic, everyday racism. Therefore, we bear a special responsibility to dismantle it. Hence, the faculty of the Dept. of Sociology commit through our research, teaching, and activism to work in solidarity and struggle with all those working for social justice in our department, on our campus (the hiring of Dr. Tuitt as UConn’s Chief Diversity Officer provides an important opportunity in this regard), in CT, and beyond.

 

We will work in collaboration with and informed by the many concrete suggestions advanced by our colleagues across the country and our professional organizations (see the links below for some examples from UConn’s Africana Studies Institute, ASA, SWS, Univ. of Minnesota, Brown University).

 

Concretely, in our department we can:

  • Organize a teach in based on the work of our colleagues that is focused on specific anti-racist initiatives like Noel’s work on How to End the Killing of African American Men, Mary Bernstein’s Anti-Gun Violence project in CT, among others.
  • Form partnerships through our internships and new Criminology Club (organized by Darrell) with local community based efforts to eliminate the prison-industrial complex
  • continue the work we began with our graduate students around issues of climate
  • task all our committees to formulate concrete steps to foster a departmental culture of equity and inclusion
  • and most importantly as the statement from Dr. Carter, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Jordan on Twitter notes: “There is no magic button, no quick fix. The weight of institutional racism, structural inequality, and oppression will not be lifted overnight. Instead, it requires each of us to reflect (rinse) and commit to this process (repeat) with intention.”

Awards and Recognitions

Faculty

Ruth Braunstein: Named Associate Editor, Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review (2020)

Mary Fischer: Chair elect of the Community and Urban Section at ASA (2021)

Phoebe Godfrey: Associate Alumnae of Douglas College, Society of Excellence Inductee, for commitment to “social justice on a global scale” (2020) 

Brad Wright: OUR Mentorship Excellence Award (2020)

Graduates

Congratulations to Nabil Tueme for receiving the 2021 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award! 
Photo of Nabil Tueme

Asmita Aasaavari: Summer 2020 Wood/Raith Gender Identity Living Trust Summer Fellowship

Caner Hazar: Project proposal application to the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowships was awarded the European Commission's Seal of Excellence.

Congratulations to Zack Kline  for receiving both the 2021 Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award and the Ron Taylor Award! 

Photo of Zachary Kline

Carol Ann Jackson: 2021 Arnold and Sandra Dashefsky Student Award for Excellence & the Summer 2021 Wood/Raith Gender Identity Living Trust Summer Fellowship

Koyel Khan: Summer 2020 Wood/Raith Gender Identity Living Trust Summer Fellowship

Congratulations to Davida Schiffer for winning the WGSS Susan Porter Benson Graduate Research Award!

Kylar Shaad: Summer 2020 Wood/Raith Gender Identity Living Trust Summer Fellowship

Chriss Sneed: 2020- 2021 Research Grant from UConn's Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research on Women & Girls of Color, hosted by Africana Studies Institute & the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship; El Instituto: Latin American Studies, UCONN

Undergraduates

Congratulations to both Candance Tang and Kylee Rose Santos on being elected to Phi Beta Kappa!

Congratulations to both Titilayo Oladotun Adekola and Krista Lin Sansone who were the winners of the Janet M. Fierberg Scholarship! Both are incoming graduate students to the School of Social Work next year.

Andrew Bogatz: Student Paper Award

Grace Scully: High GPA Award

Haley Zawilinski: Public Engagement Award

Bidding Farewell to Retiring Faculty

Marysol Asencio has been woven into sociological networks long before she joined our department in 2016. A D.PH in Public Health from Columbia University, Marysol joined UCONN’s School of Family Studies (as it was known then) in 1998. During her time at UCONN, she has held a joint appointment with El Instituto, (formerly known as Puerto Rican and Latino Studies). She served as the Associate Director and Interim Director of the Institute at different times, stepping up to these positions whenever there was a need to carry on the work of the Institute. She was a SSRC fellow (2003-2004), and the first UCONN faculty member to get a Ford Foundation grant in 2005 to develop and solidify interdisciplinary scholarship around  Latinx sexualities and queer Latinidad. She has served on numerous university committees with her customary energy and integrity.

Ever-generous with her time, Marysol has not only helped to develop the field of sexualities, especially around Latinx sexualities, she made a commitment to building and deepening equity throughout her career. She has been a mentor and advisor to many students of color over two decades building up a pipeline of underrepresented scholars from UCONN. She mentored numerous Latinx, African American, and Asian American students and faculty. She designed many courses on the intersections of racism, gender, and sexuality. At the national level she  worked with many sociologists to build up generations of Latinx and sexuality scholars; our discipline has benefitted from her expertise. She has worked consistently with many Latinx community groups in Connecticut, as well as the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice.

Marysol has always expressed a sense of gratitude to colleagues in the department for welcoming her, while we, collectively, have benefitted from her always-enthusiastic presence.

-Bandana Purkayastha

Marysol Asencio
Head shot of Davita Silfen Glasberg

From power suits to power ballads, Davita is truly a Renaissance woman. Most of us know her list of scholarly accomplishments, which include being the author/co-author/co-editor of a dozen books and more than forty articles/book chapters. Her collaborations with many students led her to be recognized twice with the Sociology Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award. Her 2011 co-edited volume, Human Rights in our Own Back Yard: Injustice and Resistance in the United States, won The American Sociological Association’s Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Book Award in 2013. The book was co-edited with William T. Armaline, a former graduate student, and our colleague, Bandana Purkayastha. Davita was among the founding sociologists for the human rights thematic group within the American Sociological Association. She also served as President for Sociologists without Borders. Her tremendous service to UCONN includes seven years as Sociology Department Head, five years as Associate Dean, and two years as Interim Dean. While serving in the Dean’s office, she continued to teach her Introduction to Sociology general education class. She did all of this while being an amazing mother to two wonderful kids and then grandmother to her two beloved grandkids. Her multiple talents don’t end there. Many of us also know her as the lead singer and percussionist for her band, Off Yer Rockers.

Perhaps because she’s always so professionally dressed, I vividly remember a story she told me about the intersections of gender, class, and impression management. Her first teaching position was in New York City, and she biked to work. She arrived to her first lecture wearing cut-off jean shorts and a Wonder Woman t-shirt. Her students took one look at her and asked, “You’re our professor?” Of course, her exceptional teaching quickly turned things around. As a new assistant professor, I found this anecdote helpful: it underscored that while dressing the part may help, no matter your costume, you have to be true to yourself, your politics, and your community and let that launch your success. Davita has modeled humility, community, and connection, always extending a hand to those of us lucky enough to climb the academic ranks after her. I also think the Wonder Woman t-shirt was decidedly apropos. Davita, you’ve continued to save the day more times than I can count, and your presence in the department will be greatly missed. My own story, like those of so many others you’ve mentored over the years, is interwoven with memories of you. Thank you.

-Kim Price-Glynn

David Weakliem has always been something of a legend.  In graduate school at Wisconsin, I’d regularly hear about him from professors with whom we  had both worked. (He had left a year or two before I had arrived). He was a hotshot graduate  student who had published several important papers and got a job in a great  department—basically what we all aspired to. When I interviewed here at UConn, the department head at that time, Wayne Villemez, wanted to impress me with what he had done to make the department better. Chief among his  accomplishments was hiring David. Getting a top-tier talent like him was quite a coup for a  department like Connecticut.

David has published in all the top journals. He’s one of the few sociologists who I know that has published in AJS, ASR, and Social Forces. (The latter two twice each!). David’s legendary status in the field was cemented, however, in 1999. He submitted an article critiquing Bayesian Analysis—then an up-and-coming statistical method in sociology. The editor at Sociological Methods and Research viewed the article as so important that he not only accepted it for publication, but he converted the whole issue into a special topics issue focused solely on David’s article. It starts with David’s article. It then has four more articles from the best social methodologists reacting to David’s article, then it has a final response from David. This is the highest level of recognition for the quality of a scholar’s thinking.

As a department member, David has set the bar for being a good citizen. He’s always been reasonable, fair, and willing to help out. Life is relatively peaceful in the department now, but it hasn’t always been that way. Even in our worst years, David participated in department life  with calm and insight. He was also willing to do the jobs that nobody else wanted to do but needed doing anyway (can you say “Associate Head”?). Add to this a wry sense of humor, and you understand why he’s so widely appreciated.

David will soon be forgotten in the department. That’s the way of academics. Do you know anything about the faculty members who retired five years before you arrived in the  department? Retirees are the great-grandparents of academics. We know that they were there, but we don’t know much about them. Nonetheless, David has made a lasting mark in the field, the department, and in the lives of the people he worked with. Thank you, so much, David

-Bradley Wright 

Research and Documentation on COVID-19

Bandana Purkayastha is part of an international team of researchers funded by Social Science Research Council to develop “interdisciplinary working groups that would ask novel questions, develop new frameworks, rethink methodological approaches, and find innovative answers” to the current pandemic. This project was featured in UConn Today.

Purkayastha also worked with an international editorial team—Melanie Heath (McMaster University, Canada), Akosua Darkwah (University of Ghana) and Josephine Beoku Betts (Florida  Atlantic University, USA), to complete a collection of Global Feminist Autoethnographies: Displacements, Disruptions and Distress, which will be published by Routledge by October 2021.  These ethnographies include a critical piece jointly written by Manisha Desai, Rianka Roy, Asmita Aasavaari, Koyel Khan and Ruth Hernandez.

Many of our faculty members and graduate students have been involved in a pandemic journaling project coordinated by the Human Rights Institute.

Greetings from the Department Head

Manisha Desai

As yet another unprecedented academic year comes to an end, over fourteen months into a global pandemic, our world continues to be in flux. The pandemic itself continues shape shifting and as sociologists we know only too well how privilege and precarity shape our experience of it. Here in the U.S., we see light and hope for many as more and more people get vaccinated and more and more activities resume in person. Elsewhere in the world, Argentina, Colombia, and Mongolia being the current countries experiencing a surge, vaccination and wellbeing lag reflecting our neoliberal, undemocratic and unjust global order. Yet, workers, farmers, students, migrants, and many others galvanized by the large-scale anti-racism protests of last summer continue to work tirelessly for justice and social transformation.  I am in awe of the creativity and compassion of people around the world as they rallied to support each other even as many states failed to do so.
 
In the department, everyone rose to the challenge of teaching, learning, researching, and working virtually. Colleagues with online teaching experience held workshops to get the rest of us up to speed. We held virtual workshops, colloquia, office hours, and award ceremonies, including yet another virtual commencement for our majors and minors.  Through this difficult year, our ever-helpful staff, Kathy Covey, Mary Malley, and Katie Upson, aided by our work study students, continued to support us even as they learned how to do their work virtually. As evident throughout this newsletter, faculty and students alike continued to conduct research and publish, give presentations to academic and non-academic audiences, win awards, and mentor, not to mention many who took on supervising their children’s home schooling. Here again, gender disparities were evident at work and at home.
 
Even amidst these trying times, colleagues achieved milestones. Dr. Christin Munsch was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure and Dr. Laura Bunyan was promoted to Associate Professor in Residence. We will also be welcoming a new, albeit small, cohort of graduate students and Dr. Carla Dhillon and Dr. Bhoomi Thakore as new colleagues in the Fall and Spring respectively.
 
Finally, it is with deep gratitude that we bid a fond farewell to Professors Marysol Ascencio, Davita Glasberg, and David Weakliem as each contemplates their future journeys away from UConn but always of UConn. It has been a true honor and joy to work with each of you. Marysol, you were with us even before you were a member of the department. Tirelessly mentoring students and serving the department, El Instituto, and UConn. Davita, you’ve worn so many hats from Department Head to Associate Dean to Interim Dean and in your last act you even agreed to serve as DGS. David, when you agreed to serve as Associate Head, I’m sure you had no idea of the unending nature of all those pesky scheduling details. Without your patience, memory, and wry sense of humor my job would have been that much harder. We cannot thank you enough for all that you’ve done for the department and the university. We hope that you will stay in touch and come visit, once that becomes possible.
 
As we look ahead to the next year, not knowing what is in store as we resume in person teaching and working, I know that we are in good hands with Professor Bandana Purkayastha serving as Acting Head while I am away on sabbatical in the Fall and Professor Andrew Deener as the incoming Director of Graduate Studies. We have all learned much patience and resilience over the past year that will enable us to continue not only our academic work but also our commitment to social justice and anti-racism work within and outside the department to ensure a place where we can all flourish. I wish you all a summer of rest, reflection, and rejuvenation after a challenging year.

Mary Bernstein: Southern Queeries Podcast

Check out Professor Mary Bernstein's recent appearance on the Southern Queeries podcast, which provides a look at what is going on in the world of gay marriage or LGBTQ weddings, with a southern twist. Why did the queer community push so hard for marriage in the first place, were there other fights we should have been focusing on, and should LGBTQ people participate in such a cis/straight institution in the first place?  

Phoebe Godfrey: Publication of Two New Books

Check out Associate Professor in Residence Phoebe Godfrey's two new books!

Cover of "Understanding Just Sustainabilities from Within" by Phoebe Godfrey.

Written by the co-founder and former board president of a non-profit shared-use commercial kitchen, Understanding Just Sustainabilities from Within presents an intersectional analysis of CLiCK (Commercially Licensed Co-operative Kitchen), in order to explore what just sustainabilities can look and feel like from within and without.

Through a unique combination of autoethnography, participant observation, surveys, and secondary research, this book offers insights into CLiCK’s micro and macro successes, failures, and unknowns in relation to its attempt to put the concept of just sustainabilities into daily practice, and praxis. Developing its practical analyses from a theoretical basis, this book does not focus on definitive answers, recognizing instead that the closest we can get to understanding just sustainabilities in praxis is through long-term collective struggle and ultimately love.

Researchers and educators who are interested in linking theory with practice, especially in relation to just sustainabilities and intersectionality, will appreciate the theoretical grounding, making it desirable for multiple social science classes. Additionally, those involved with the social justice, food justice, and just sustainabilities movements will benefit from the book’s insights into best practices to address issues of social inequalities on the micro level, while also offering the benefits of a macro intersectional analysis.

At a time when environmental and social stakes are at their highest – with rising crises and contradictions at the nexus of a building sense of environmental and social collapse – there are no easy solutions. Global Im-Possibilities explores just what can be done around the world to ameliorate this dynamic.

Using a range of essays and a multitude of case studies, this book explores what new lessons can be learned from examining the challenges and impediments to achieving just sustainabilities on the levels of policy, planning, and practice, and considers how these challenges and impediments can be addressed by individuals and/or governments.

Taking a nuanced approach to provide an intersectional analysis of a particular issue relating to the ideals for achieving sustainability, this book asserts that that it is only in recognizing such complexity that we can hope to achieve just sustainabilities.

Cover of "Global Im-Possibilities" by Phoebe Godfrey.