In November of 2017, I was invited by Professor Julia Adams to serve as a discussant at Yale's Comparative Research Workshop. Specifically, Professor Adams asked me to respond to Sociology PhD student James Hurlbert's paper, "Enemies Foreign and Domestic: War, Rebellion, and Sovereignty in the Early American Republic," as I have a background in studying early American history. It was a great first time experience as a discussant, and I owe many thanks for the guidance and mentorship Professor Adams provided me. I look forward to doing it again soon!
In October of 2017, I spent a week in Scotland attending "The Civil Sphere and Radicalization" Conference at the University of Aberdeen, co-sponsored by Professor Jeff Alexander (Yale University) and Professor Trevor Stack (Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society, and Rule of Law [CISRUL], University of Aberdeen).
As the program description states, the conference focused on the following: "Constitutional democracies by definition afford a range of opportunities for political expression including protest. Why, then, do some movements choose to engage in more radical forms of protest, such as civil disobedience, hacktivism and jihadi terrorism, and to what effect? Our conference will transform understanding of radical protest, first by cross-fertilizing existing debates through comparing species of radical protest, and second, by explaining radical protest not only in terms of the perceived inadequacy of existing institutional channels for dissent, but also and crucially, drawing on Jeffrey Alexander’s The Civil Sphere, in terms of the lack of response from the mainstream social movements which Alexander dubs the “civil sphere”. For Alexander, Northern media’s response to Martin Luther King’s civil disobedience shows how civil spheres can respond sympathetically to radical protest, recognizing a movement’s causes as “civil”. Our speakers will focus on the role of established civil spheres in producing as well as responding to radical protest."
It was a great weekend applying Alexander's civil sphere theory to the topic of global radicalism with many great scholars from around the world. I participated as a graduate student, reading the papers, and giving feedback and asking questions during the paper sessions. Thank you to Dr. Alexander for inviting me to attend!
On September 18th, I was invited to join the Yale Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies's "Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society" (RPS) as a Junior Fellow, having been nominated by Professor Julia Adams from the Sociology department.
The MacMillan Center is, "the University’s focal point for promoting teaching and research on all aspects of international affairs, societies, and cultures around the world," and it "seeks to make understanding the world outside the borders of the United States, and the role of the United States in the world, an integral part of liberal education and professional training at the University."
I will attend all RPS events this year, and look forward to participating in discussion, interaction with visiting scholars, and learning more about the MacMillan Center's larger projects, as well. In the future, I plan to apply for other opportunities at the center, like the prestigious Fox Fellowship, a graduate student exchange program, as well as the Pre-Dissertation Grant for international research, the International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the language immersion grants.
In August 2017, I was invited to become a Junior Fellow at Yale's Center for Cultural Sociology by Directors Dr. Jeff Alexander, Dr. Phil Smith, and Dr. Ron Eyerman. I am looking forward to attending the estimable weekly CCS workshop, known for it's rigor, lively conversation, and productivity. This year, I will attend as a participant during Q&A and feedback, and then next year, will contribute a paper.
After months (and years) of preparation, I have decided to accept Yale's offer to join their Sociology department as a doctoral student. I'm thrilled! In addition to the many incredible scholars in the Yale community, I'm specifically looking forward to working with Julia Adams and Phil Gorski as I focus more on historical sociology, as well as with Jeff Alexander as I learn how to blend a cultural sociology into my work. The resources at Yale are so exciting, too, especially the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library (pictured above), the many workshops each week, and the MacMillan Center's Religion, Politics and Society Initiative.
In a few months, we'll pack up and move to New Haven! I'll check back in then. Cheers to Yale, and hard work paying off!
Today is a celebration of Homecoming at my first alma mater, Gordon College, a place that became a home to me 10 years ago and will always hold a special place in my heart. Gordon provided a safe space for me to grow as an intellectual, a spiritually-minded person, and as a friend. And I met amazing people of all ages - we laid in the middle of the quad and dreamed about love, we danced through all hours of the night, we practiced speaking other languages, we shared joy in our work, and we spent a ton of time hanging out in the trees. When I'm having a particularly hard day, most often the quickest calm comes over me when I picture myself in my bed in my dorm, the window open, the rain pouring, the muffled laughs of my friends in the next room.
Today, I want to share a bit about my time spent studying for my second degree (a second BA in sociology), as well as my capstone project - my honors thesis. It was two and a half years in the making, and will serve as the foundation for my career in a lot of ways. Changing as I changed, it became this fluid, dynamic piece of research and writing that feels alive - like a snapshot of where I am in this moment, and not just professionally, but personally, as well.
Last week, I flew out to Boston to complete archival research for my honors thesis at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, Massachusetts. It was incredible! If I wasn't a history nerd before (I was), it is surely obvious now, especially since I just threw out the words "archival" and "historical society" at you. Often when I tell people what I am researching, I am met with blank stares - it is an obscure topic in a faraway time in colonial American history. However, when I was at the historical society, I got to hold in my hands letters and journals that dated back to the 1600s. Many of them were penned by the very men I am studying. It was absolutely incredible to be so close to the humanity of history. It is surely not obscure anymore - at least in my mind.
When reading today for my Self and Modern Society class, taught by sociologist Leslie Irvine, I was struck by this passage about the Romantics by Roy F. Baumeister from his book Identity, Cultural Change and the Struggle for Self (1986):
The Romantic ideas about personal destiny apply to the potentiality aspect of identity, whereas the early modern period had dealt with the interpersonal aspect. But the approaches are similar. The early modern period developed the belief in the hidden self, which meant that the intentions and motives of a person had to be discovered. The Romantics made personal potentiality something that also had to be discovered, but discovered in a different way. Poetry, for example, had previously been regarded as arising from divine inspiration, but the Romantics began to think of poetry as deriving from the buried treasures within the self of the poet (62-63, emphasis original).
Immediately upon reading this, I remembered a Ted talk I love by author Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love).
What are your thoughts on immigration reform? Have you given this issue much of your time lately?
Shared above is a heartbreaking photojournalism piece from The New York Times. I was given the link to this documentary as a part of an assignment for a sociology class I'm taking this semester on food and society, and in the nine or so minutes that it took me to watch this film, I've been more moved to think and act critically on this issue than I have in the last nine years since I turned 18-years-old, and became a registered voter in the state of Colorado. All the talk in this year's midterm election cycle, all the ad campaigns, all the debates - they don't hold a candle, in my opinion, to the effectiveness of this documentary in communicating the pressing nature of immigration reform.