In this episode, guest host Richie LeDonne speaks with Peter McGraw, a marketing and psychology professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, and journalist Joel Warner on their new book, The Humor Code. We talk about their travels around the world in search of what makes things funny, how comedians create humor, and how laughs are used to cope with tragedy and wield political power.
Three sociologists, an anthropologist and a political scientist walk into a bar…and the result is a new book on the state, and emerging new forms, of civic participation in contemporary America. While we seem to be living an age marked by political apathy and growing distrust for government and political institutions, there also seems to be a growing set of opportunities for Americans to “get involved” and “make a difference” in society. From new forms of grass roots activism, to the increasing importance that social media plays in organizing political movements, the ways Americans participate in social change have dramatically evolved even while pessimism toward politics has reached new historical lows.
In the new book The Civic Imagination a group of ethnographers provide a detailed, account of how civically active Americans understand, talk and act on their different visions for social change. Reporting on the ways that organizers envision their impacts on society, but also how they feel they have innovated new forms of participating, this multi-site ethnography challenges assertions that we live in a political age driven American apathy. At the same time, this book reminds us of the limitations, if not blinders, of these new forms of political involvement, particularly revolving issues of inequality. So before you download that new Social Justice mobile app, or organize your next Occupy event at the public library, take a listen to our interview with the authors of the Civic Imagination: Making a Difference in American Political Life
This week we are joined by Samira Kawash to discuss her book Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. Samira is a professor emerita at Rutgers University. During our conversation we discuss the important but ignored place candy has occupied in the American conscious, the many shifting meanings attached to the sugary treats, and what can be learned from the increasingly blurred line between food and candy. You can read more of Samira’s work at www.CandyProfessor.com.
Today we are joined by Kathryn Henne. Kathryn is a Research Fellow at the Regulatory Institutions Network, a research center housed at the Australian National University and also a fellow of the Research School of Asia and the Pacific. Kathryn joins us to talk about her article “The ‘Science’ of Fair Play in Sport: Gender and the Politics of Testing”, which will appear in the forthcoming issue of Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. We discuss the shifting models of sex testing used by the International Olympic Committee, efforts to enforce the male female binary, and assumptions about fair play and the natural body.