comparative

In this episode, we talk with Alejandro Baer, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.

In this study, Alejandro and his colleagues sought to understand the specific discourse around anti-semitic sentiments amongst different cultural groups in Spain. To study this difficult to measure construct, the researchers created homogenous discussion groups of 7 to 9 people, led by a trained moderator. Participants were of similar demographics, leading to a ‘group discourse mode’ that revealed the structures of meaning different groups use to discuss their views on minority groups.

“When you design your groups, they have to be internally homogenous and externally heterogeneous. All of the individuals of one group share certain similarities in terms of age, political orientation, or of religious origin. You cannot put together left wing activists with conservative religious individuals of a totally different age. That’s not the idea. We want to capture the discourse they will share, not what makes them different.
– Alejandro Baer – 

In this episode, we are joined by co-authors David Scott FitzGerald, Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California at San Diego and David Cook-Martín, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Grinnell College and director of its Center for International Studies. We discuss the historical, comparative approach that the two employed in their book Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas, for which they conducted analysis of legal records of twenty-two countries between 1790 and 2010.

“Getting access to the so-called hidden transcripts, as James Scott would call them, was difficult. That was something that came out of our archival work. We didn’t set out expecting to find the volume of such secret confidentials that we came up with. Some of the more exciting archival research that we did was to uncover some documents that had never been reported before in either the English or Spanish language literature. For example, there are some confidential restrictions on Chinese in Mexico that I found in the archives in Mexico City, where some of the documents were written partially in cypher. Then I found other documents that de-coded that and showed that it referred specifically to Chinese. David found some similar documents that have never been written about before in the archives in Argentina.”
– David Scott FitzGerald & David Cook-Martín –