With the election of Donald Trump, much has been made about the construction of barriers to entry along the US border with Mexico. But while Trump has placed particular emphasis on the image of a wall designed to limit illegal movement across this border, thousands of workers travel lawfully from cities like Tijuana into the US — and back again — every day. In today’s episode, I talk with Rice University’s Sergio Chávez about his new book Border Lives: Fronterizos, Transnational Migrants, and Commuters in Tijuana, an ethnographic product of many years spent traveling (and waiting to travel) across the border with commuting workers. Dr. Chávez describes the incredible strain that border controls and bureaucracies place on low wage workers, but he also provides a remarkable account of the way that many workers leverage these difficulties into relationships and livelihood strategies. We also explore the implications of his findings for a relatively new approach to the scholarship on immigration, which social scientists call transnationalism.
In this episode, guest host Neeraj Rajasekar talks to Harvard professor Natasha Warikoo about her book The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities. The book centers on conversations with white students and students of color at Harvard, Brown, and Oxford around their understandings of diversity and diversity programs. Through these interviews, Warikoo illustrates how elite students make sense of their positions at elite universities, the merit involved, and the role privilege plays.
In his new book, To Care for Creation: the Emergence of the Religious Environmental Movement, Professor Stephen Ellingson explores new — and often localized — environmental activism among mainstream religious groups in the United States. Through interviews with over 60 organizations, he tells the story of how activists overcome the institutional, political, and cultural barriers that have typically prevented religious organizations from investing in environmental causes.
Prior to the 1990s, the sociology of immigration focused mainly on just a handful of major cities where most new arrivals had settled throughout the 20th century. But more recently, immigrants have been moving to new destinations in the rural South and Midwest, drawing scholars like today’s guest, Vanesa Ribas, to closely monitor how race and labor dynamics might be playing out in these smaller communities. Dr. Ribas’ new book, On the Line: Slaughterhouse Lives and the Making of the New South, examines these changes through a case study centered around a meat packing plant in rural North Carolina.
Across the country, sightings of people dressed as “creepy clowns” standing in forests, on roads, in doorways has exploded and captured part of the national imagination. A lot of people were unsure what to make of this odd development. Some call it a clown “invasion”, some call it a clown “uprising”, and some call it the “Great Clown Scare”— yet most agree that it is indeed creepy. In this episode, guest host Ryan Larson talks to University of Delaware professor Joel Best, author of Damned Lies and Statistics and Social Problems. This conversations focuses on the context of the recent clown sightings around the nation, and how they connect to other popular mythologies.
In this episode, I talk to University of Toronto professor Jooyoung Lee, author of Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central. This conversation focuses on the book as well as Professor Lee’s experiences writing the book. For some context, set in South Central Los Angeles, Professor Lee worked in and around Project Blowed, an open mic venue that functioned as a kind of hub for a large underground hip-hop community in Los Angeles. For some vocabulary, “Blowin’ Up” refers to getting attention/ fame/ money/ recognition in wider society and a “Blowedian” is a member of Project Blowed. Our conversations covers topics from what it means to be an insider in ethnography, to Professor Lee’s experiences ‘defending the block’ from intruders with his dance skills.
Northwestern University professor Aldon Morris discusses W.E.B. Du Bois and the status of his work in the sociological canon. In this special hour-long episode, we explore the ongoing tension between social justice activism and the scientific features of contemporary sociology, especially as it is experienced by many black scholars today. Morris’ new book is called The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology.
Office Hours is back for fall semester! We welcome new producer Matthew Aguilar-Champeau, whose soundscaping includes a musical refresh courtesy of The Custodian of Records.
Hosts Sarah Catherine-Billups and Caty Taborda kick things off with Princeton professor Dalton Conley, author of Being Black, Living in the Red and the popular sociology textbook You May Ask Yourself. Their conversation pries into the sometimes controversial, but always provocative intersection between sociology and genetic science.