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Henke wins prestigious David Edge Prize

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on March 12, 2015

Hurray for Chris Henke!!
Professor Chris Henke (and co-author Benjamin Sims)’s article “Repairing credibility: Repositioning nuclear weapons knowledge after the Cold War,” in the Social Studies of Science, vol. 42, no. 3, June 2012, pp. 324-347 was selected as a winner of the 2014 David Edge Prize awarded by the Society for the Social Studies of Science. This prize is awarded annually for the best article in the area of science and technology studies by the 4S. Yuko Fujigaki, one of the members of 4S and the 2014 David Edge Prize committee informed Chris and Ben of this honor at the annual meeting in February. That paper also won the ASA SKAT paper prize a few years back.

Read about the award here on the 4S website.

Edge committee members: Yuko Fujigaki (U Tokyo, Japan) and Nelly Oudshoorn (U Twente, The Netherlands) made the presentation stating: The 4S prize committee received 23 papers for the selection process, “three from self-nomination and 20 papers from editors of Social Studies of Science, Science, Technology, and Human Values, East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal, Social Epistemology, Theory, Culture, and Society, Public Understanding of Science, Geoforum, BioSocieties, Scandinavian Journal of Management.”

“This paper deals with the “maintenance” of the credibility of US nuclear weapons after the Cold War and examines how the weapon scientists have avoided a crisis of credibility, showing that their knowledge is deeply embedded in the design and testing of these weapons. This paper highlights an area that most STS papers have largely neglected, and opens up the new research direction on sociotechnical repair. Therefore, this paper deserves the award.” Read more

madison county is NOT the poorest county in NY

By Chris Henke on February 18, 2015

During the time I’ve worked at Colgate, I’ve heard a frequent assumption about Madison County from our students: that Madison County is the poorest county in New York State.  There are a lot of ways we can measure poverty, but according to the most common measures, Madison County is NOT the poorest county in the state.  In fact, it’s pretty average, both for New York and for the United States.  The median household income for Madison County is $53,589, which is just a bit higher than the median income for all U.S. households ($53,046) and a bit lower than the median income for all New York households ($58,003).  Similarly, the poverty rate for Madison County is 11.3%, which is 4 percentage points lower than the poverty rate for New York (15.3%) and quite a bit lower than the poverty rate for the entire U.S. population (14.5%).  See the U.S. Census Bureau’s QuickFacts site for more information.

That’s not to say that there is no poverty in Madison County—wealthier villages in the county like Hamilton and Cazenovia tend to shift some of these numbers, masking the struggles facing many of those in our county with fewer resources.  As a comparison, we can take a look at our neighbor just to the south, Chenango County, which has a much lower median household income ($43,941) and a higher poverty rate (15.3%).  So, yes, there is poverty in our region, but please stop saying that Madison County is the poorest place in our state, as it’s just not true.

celebrate national anthropology day!

By Chris Henke on February 16, 2015


Did you know that Thursday, February 19 is National Anthropology Day?  The SOAN Department is celebrating the big day with a Happy Hour at Donovan’s Pub—please join us starting at 4:30pm for free food and drink as well as prizes for anthropology-related knowledge!  Hope to see you there.

welcome back! a note from the SOAN chair

By Chris Henke on January 27, 2015

Dear SOAN students,

I hope that your first week of classes has gone very well and that you are settling into a challenging but rewarding and fun semester of scholarship.  If you are studying off-campus this semester, I wish you the best during your time away from Colgate—please send us a postcard!  I’m writing with some information to help you make the most of SOAN opportunities and events in the Spring 2015 term.  Please read on…


SOAN Faculty

After a fall term with several faculty leaves, we welcome back most of our SOAN professors this semester, although Prof Aveni and Prof Loe are away this term.  We also have our visiting faculty, Professor Joe Gibbons and Professor Lavinia Nicolae with us again this semester, and each is offering some great new courses, including offerings in medical anthropology and social deviance that we have not been able to offer for several years.

Some of you may also know that Professor Rhonda Levine is making retirement plans—after 33 years of inspiring Colgate students, this semester will be Prof Levine’s last semester of teaching!  I hope you will give Prof Levine your best wishes as she transitions to a new stage of the life course (as sociologists might see it…).


SOAN Jokes

Last semester I wrote about the new look of the SOAN Resource Room, and I hope that you have had a chance to visit and work in the new space.  If you’ve walked past the white board, you may have noticed some SOAN-themed jokes that students and faculty posted last semester.  The jokes are really bad, and I mean that in the best possible way.  Thanks to those who have posted jokes (I know that there is one student in particular that has been responsible for many of them so far), and make sure to stop by to see anything new that pops up.

an example of SOAN humor

an example of SOAN humor

SOAN Events – Spring 2015

In the spring term we are continuing our calendar of events on the theme of “Social Movements and Civil Rights,” building on the programming and events of last semester.  If the recent national and global examples of social movements didn’t seem real enough to you, last semester’s movements at Colgate brought home to us the importance of understanding social movements as important methods of social change.  I hope you will join us for two key lectures sponsored by SOAN this term—the lectures will be held on February 12 and April 8, and you can see more details below.  In addition, we are continuing many of the same community-building events that we have offered in past semesters—including happy hours and Cho-Dunkin’ Tuesdays!  Please check the weekly news and events emails that we will send throughout the semester for more details about coming events.  Here is a list of some of our keys events for the fall term:

Thursday, February 5, 11:30am-12:30pm: Information session for prospective SOAN majors.  Alumni 431/432; lunch served.

Tuesday, February 10, 8:15am-noon: Cho-Dunkin’ Tuesday; yogurt and donuts served in the SOAN lounge.

Thursday, February 12, 4:15pm: Roberto Velez lecture: “Of Art and other Visualizations: Examination of Visual Performances in the Vieques Movement.”  Persson Auditorium.

Thursday, February 19, 4:30-6:30pm: SOAN Happy Hour and celebration of National Anthropology Day!  Donovan’s Pub.

Tuesday, March 10, 8:15am-noon: Cho-Dunkin’ Tuesday; yogurt and donuts served in the SOAN lounge.

Friday, March 27, 5pm: Film: THIS IS SPINAL TAP—special 31st anniversary screening in conjunction with the Friday Night Film series.  Golden Auditorium, Little Hall; Pizza.

Wednesday, April 8 4:30pm: Kate Crehan lecture: “Creating Common Sense: A Gramscian Reading of the Tea Party and Occupy.” Persson Auditorium.

Tuesday, April 14, 8:15am-noon: Cho-Dunkin’ Tuesday; yogurt and donuts served in the SOAN lounge.

Thursday, April 16, 4:30-6:30pm: SOAN Happy Hour; Donovan’s Pub.

Tuesday, May 5, 8:15am-noon: Cho-Dunkin’ Tuesday; yogurt and donuts served in the SOAN lounge.


Keeping Up With SOAN News

SOAN implemented a few ways to keep up with SOAN news and events last year that we will continue this term:

(1) Weekly SOAN email updates—please don’t just hit DELETE!  These updates are quick and have a lot of good information in them.

(2) The SOAN Blog: http://blogs.colgate.edu/sociology-and-anthropology.

(3) The SOAN Opportunities Tumblr: http://soan-colgate.tumblr.com/.


I wish you all the very best in your courses and other campus activities this semester.  Please stop by and say “hi” some time this semester—my office is in Alumni 419.


Chris Henke

Chair, SOAN Department



SOAN Students in Professor Levine’s SOC 212 Course Create Blog on Race at Colgate

By Chris Henke on January 8, 2015

Students in Professor Levine’s Fall 2014 course on “Power, Racism, and Privilege” tackled last semester’s events related to race and civil rights via a class Tumblr page.

SOAN Students Study the Neighborhoods of the State Capitol

By Chris Henke on January 8, 2015

Students in Professor Gibbons’ Fall 2014 Urban Sociology course took time to study two neighborhoods in Albany, New York as part of a semester long class assignment. Students used the mobile app Fieldnotes LT to document all of the storefronts, piles of trash, and homes with broken/boarded windows they found in the Albany neighborhoods of Arbor Hill and Center Square.  Using Google Earth, students then analyzed what they collected, along with city crime data and Census data, to explore if neighborhood crime relates to social disorder.  Some students used this data to call to question the validity of the ‘Broken Windows’ approach to policing, argued by some scholarship to have influenced the deadly police encounters in Ferguson and New York City.  This mindset emphasizes that cracking down on minor disorders like broken windows or large amounts of trash on streets can offset more serious crimes like assaults or murders.  Student projects demonstrated that the location of homes with broken windows on a block did not overlap with clusters of more serious crimes.  Supporting this, other student papers suggest that instances of both minor disorders and crime are instead tied to larger issues of structural disadvantage, like racial segregation.  While collecting data, students encountered a variety of people in these different neighborhoods, offering them a deeper sense of how community order manifests on the ground.  

albany trip

submitted by Professor Joe Gibbons

The US May be Losing Its Cultural Dominance to Korea

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on January 7, 2015

When I teach my Globalization and Culture class, many of my students assume that globalization is the spread of Western culture, or even specifically of American culture. There’s certainly a good reason to believe that in a world where Starbucks, Transformers, and Beyonce appear to have achieved global domination.

But the Chinese have become so obsessed with pop culture coming from a foreign country that even the government is concerned, and the source of the problem is not coming from the West. Instead, it’s the “Korean Wave” (Hallyu). It started with soap operas, but now Chinese consumers are also infatuated with k-pop, Korean fashion designers, Korean movies, Korean food, and even Korean products.  One member of the Chinese National People’s Congress moaned, “It’s more than just a Korean soap opera. It hurts our cultural dignity.”

According to “A Korean Hallyu Threatens American Cultural Dominance,” by sociologists Sangyoub Park and Lisa Wade, popular culture isn’t trivial. The issue is national soft power: “This is the kind of power states can exert simply by being popular and well-liked. This enables the country to influence transnational politics without force or coercion.”

Professor Carolyn Hsu

Spadola Wins Book Award Runner-Up

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on December 15, 2014

Spadola-Geertz Award

The runner-up in the 2014 Clifford Geertz Award competition is Emilio Spadola’s The Calls of Islam: Sufis, Islamists, and Mass Mediation in Urban Morocco (Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa) (2014). The Calls of Islam is a highly original and accessible book on the multiple, concurrent calls of/to Islam in Morocco and in particular on how Sufism has been appropriated by the Moroccan state. Spadola shows how mass mediation has affected structures of piety, authority, and power.

The book is rich in ethnographic and historical detail. The focus on mediation offers fresh theoretical contributions to the anthropology of Islam by arguing against the singular pious body and instead for the “breached” collective body as an effect of the force of communication. The Calls of Islam beautifully fleshes out an interpretation of the call to worship as a communicative mode that generates difference as much as coherence.

The Calls of Islam gives a new and innovative perspective on Islam and manages to introduce the field of media theory to these issues in an accessible and insightful fashion. The book also provides a very sensitive and theoretically sophisticated approach to the controversy involving Sufism.  The competition included 45 books from 2012 through mid-2014, and two prizes were awarded, Spadola’s being the Runner-Up.


Pictured: Emilio Spadola receiving the award on Dec. 6 during the annual meeting of the American Anthropology Association in Washington, DC. Spadola is with Lauren Leve, a committee member and Associate Prof. of Religious Studies at UNC Chapel Hill.

“Die in” held at American Anthropological Association Meeting

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on December 15, 2014

The annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA or “triple A”) reflected what is happening in our society at large this year, with both protests and academic papers related to the reaction to the Ferguson and Staten Island decisions. Anthropologists reacted by joining the street protests in Washington DC, the site of this year’s conference, and by holding a “die in” at the conference hotel. In the following post, Faye V. Harrison, a prominent American anthropologist, reflects on the personal and intellectual implications of this historical moment.
 Submitted by Professor Mary Moran

When Force is Hardest to Justify, Victims of Police Violence are Most Likely to Be Black

By Department of Sociology and Anthropology on December 5, 2014

After the grand juries in both Ferguson and New York City chose not to indict police officers for actions leading to the deaths of African-American civilians, I’ve seen the same few questions pop up again and again in conversations and blogs and comments:

  • How do we know this is about police racism across America, and not just about the particular people involved?
  • Okay, maybe blacks are more likely to be recipients of police violence, but isn’t that because they are more likely to deserve it because they are doing something criminal or aggressive?

According to FBI data,  the answers are clear:

  • African Americans, especially young men, are much, much more likely to die at the hands of police then their white counterparts.
  • Of those who have been killed by police, African-Americans victims are less likely to have been resisting/attacking the officer(s).  In fact, “the less clear it is that force was necessary, the more likely the victim is to be black.