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Sociology at American University NEWSLETTER 2012

Contents From the Chair.................................1 Gert Harald Mueller: In Memorium........................................2 Students Participate in Alternative Break to Haiti..............2 CHRS Continues to Expand.........3 Emily Parker Wins Eastern Sociological Society’s Undergraduate Research Award........................3 Department News and Notes....4-7 Newest Alumni................................7 Welcome, jimi adams!......................8 Spotlight on Birth and Death Course ..............................................8

American University Department of Sociology 4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW Washington, D.C. 20016-8029 202-885-2475 202-885-2477 (fax)

Department of Sociology College of Arts & Sciences

From the Chair Greetings! The year has been a very busy one for me personally as I continue to learn all of the responsibilities of being a chair, and also for the department, as we move forward with implementing our strategic plan to expand the research culture in the department and develop our expertise in health and society. In the fall, we were busy conducting searches to fill two open positions, one assistant professor in demography with a specialization in health, and the other at the associate level, with a record of scholarship and funding in the social determinants of health. Happily, we hired jimi adams, from Arizona State University, as an assistant professor; he will start in August 2012. Our search for an associate professor continues—so if you are interested, or know someone who might be, please contact me or Gay Young (chair of the search committee). This spring, we started a new departmental research seminar at which we share our work, benefiting from the feedback of our colleagues and developing a shared sense of our many strengths as a department. We also continued to expand the Center on Health, Risk, and Society (CHRS), aimed at building an interdisciplinary group of scholars at AU interested in the social aspects of health and facilitating the development of related collaborative research projects. Finally, under our leadership, American University has become one of six institutional affiliates of the DC Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DC D-CFAR). This has opened access to many new resources for conducting HIV/AIDS related research at AU. We are proud of our 26 minors and 63 majors, 22 of which graduated with a BA this past spring. As in the past, our majors were a substantial presence at the spring student research conference of the College of Arts and Sciences, presenting papers on topics as diverse as the media construction of neighborhood desirability, racial identity in adoption, the tea party in the media, masculinity in graphic novels, hoarding, and the experience of incarcerated trans women. Twenty students were inducted into Alpha Kappa Delta, the international sociological honor society,

and four students were presented awards at our annual Sociology Day the first day of May. Our 15 masters students have excelled as well; and all but one of our remaining doctoral students completed their degrees in the summer or 2011. In the pages that follow, you will see that our faculty have contributed extensively to the discipline, publishing books as well as articles in some of the top journals in their subfields, successfully competing for grants and contracts, presenting at professional meetings, taking leadership positions in professional organizations, excelling in the classroom, mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, working hard to serve local, national, and international communities, and winning awards for their work. Sadly, we acknowledge the passing of one of our former colleagues, Gert Mueller. We are planning a special event next year to highlight the significance of sociological theory, in his honor. Finally, I would like to thank each and every one of my colleagues for their support, guidance, and commitment to the department. Two very special thanks; one goes to the faculty who worked so hard in getting our last PhD students successfully through the program; the other goes to Sandy Linden, whose responsibilities have grown exponentially, even while the time she has to accomplish them has remained the same, and yet, she manages to keep us on track!

-Kim Blankenship


American University Department of Sociology Newsletter

By Monica Biradavolu, PhD, Research Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of CHRS

By Joseph R. Pearce (PhD ‘84) and Jurg K. Siegenthaler, Professor Emeritus, American University

Photo by Joseph R. Pearce

posited in his theory by applying the tools of mathematical logic and, more specifically, the “foundational truth function,” which he constructed to map and test the relationships between what he called “emergent and dominant superstructures.” Mueller left a substantial body of original work in analytical sociological theory, much of which remains unpublished. A selection of these manuscripts can be found on the American University Department of Sociology website ( He published more than 75 journal articles and one book, Sociology and Ontology: The Analytical Foundations of Sociological Theory (1989). Last year, the department established the Sociology Legacy Fund to honor the contributions to a sociological community—within and outside our institution—of our past faculty including Dr. Mueller. Please visit the following website to find out more about the fund and how to make a donation ( sociology-legacy-fund.cfm). Mueller is survived by his first cousin, Solveig Woelfel of Frankfurt, Germany. In his trust he wrote, “I have no children, living or deceased. My friends have been family to me.” He will be greatly missed by his students and those who knew and loved him. Editors’ note: This obituary was printed in the February 2012 issue of Footnotes, a publication of the ASA. With their permission, it is reprinted here.

Students Participate in Alternative Break to Haiti In March 2012, graduate student Rebekah Israel served as co-leader for the Alternative Break to Haiti. The trip explored sustainable development through people as resources, with emphasis on empowering women and youth. The student participants worked closely with two Haitian organizations, the Association of Peasants of Fondwa (APF) and Fonkoze, that empower rural communities through microfinance and community led development projects. Laura Vogler (BA ‘12) also participated and served as the official photographer. She saw first-hand the difference these organizations were making. She commented that the provision of “water filtration, goats, solid houses with tin roofs, job skills, birth control, and community support truly transformed the lives of the women and their self-confidence.” Rebekah Israel said that the trip was life changing for her, and that it also allowed her to engage the students in sociological discussions about “structural inequalities and connecting them to race, class, and gender disparities here in the U.S. and even locally in the DC metropolitan area.”


CHRS Continues to Expand

Gert Harald Mueller: In Memorium Gert Harald Mueller, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at American University, died at the age of 89 on October 23, 2011, in Washington, DC. Mueller was born in Dresden, Germany, on July 20, 1922. After WWII, he was admitted to the Freie Universität of West Berlin. He received his PhD from the University of Munich in 1954. The title of his dissertation was “The Structure of Pure Dialectics.” He subsequently returned to Berlin to pass his first state examination, which entitled him to teach history, philosophy, and French in the German gymnasia system, where he taught from 1954 to 1962. After spending several years as a private scholar, he accepted a position as assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, where he taught sociology from 1968 to 1972. In 1973, he became an assistant professor at American University, where he advanced to full professor and taught sociology until his retirement in 1991. As an emeritus professor, he remained active in pursuing his research and writing on sociological theory up to the time of his death. Mueller’s work in analytical sociological theory was the fruit of more than 50 years of scholarly research. His work in theory was the product of a painstaking curiosity leading to exhaustive studies in religion, philosophy, history, and sociology. The body of Mueller’s work bears witness to a lifelong passion for uncompromising scholarship and intellectual craftsmanship in the pursuit of sociology as a rigorous science. He was a scholar in the classical mold whose breadth of knowledge reflected a singular dedication to thinkers who came before him, theorists like Aristotle, Comte, Hegel, Marx, Weber, Husserl, and Wittgenstein. He argued that reality (physical, biological, social, moral, and cultural) could be conceived most fruitfully as forming a hierarchy of founding and controlling relationships that condition social reality rather than determine it. Mueller tested the hierarchical relationships

American University Department of Sociology Newsletter

The Center on Health, Risk, and Society (CHRS) continues its expansion with the addition of Assistant Professor Michael Bader in the Department of Sociology. Dr. Bader researches cities and ways in which people interact with the built environment. His scholarship centers on racial and economic segregation, neighborhood inequality, and health and nutrition disparities. In the fall 2012, newly hired Assistant Professor jimi adams will also work closely with CHRS (see related story). CHRS continues to support student research including five MA students in sociology (Christine Gordon, Rebekah Israel, Sarah Okorie, Elizabeth Puloka, and Lori Sommerfelt) and one PhD student in anthropology (Ashante Reese). Two undergraduate students, Krys Benyamein (government) and Erik Jacobsen (sociology) worked as interns at the center. For a second summer in a row, CHRS will host interns from institutions across the US as part of an NIH-funded summer research program. Following the success of last year’s “Getting to Know Your Colleagues” seminar series, the center continued the format of a weekly seminar. We invited newly-hired colleagues from across AU, with research interests in health, to present their work and be introduced to CHRS, including professors Michael Bader of sociology, Nina Yamanis of SIS, and Taryn Morrissey of SPA. Several guest speakers from outside AU presented their work: Dr. Fernando De Maio of De Paul University presented his ongoing work on the health effects of income inequality in Argentina; Dr. Lakshmi Goparaju of Georgetown University presented her research on African-American women’s perceptions of the down-low phenomenon among Black men; Samson Njomole, an HIV activist from Malawi, spoke about HIV and nutrition outcomes in rural Malawi; Dr. Elizabeth Rigby of George Washington University spoke on the public support for redistribution to address inequality; Dr. Jennifer Huang of Georgetown University talked about her ongoing work on migration, sex work, and HIV in China; and Drs. Maria-Cecilia Zea, Paul Poppen, Carol Reisen, and Fernanda Bianchi of George

Washington University presented findings from their research on MSMs, internal displacement, and HIV risk in Colombia. The center also organized some seminars as “works-in-progress,” to allow CHRS-affiliated faculty across AU to get input on grant proposals, papers in the revise-and-resubmit stage and research ideas for new projects. One or two discussants were assigned ahead of time and the papers/proposals distributed in advance. Professors Michael Bader, Kim Blankenship, Daniel Esser, and Rachel Robinson received feedback on papers; Professors Maria De Jesus and Nina Yamanis got input on grant proposals; and Tamara Hafner shared her ideas for a new research project. CHRS Director and Sociology Chair, Kim Blankenship, has received funding from the NIH to organize a conference in fall 2012 entitled, “Community Disruption and HIV Risk: Re-entry, Gentrification, and HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia.” The conference will focus on social structural processes critical in shaping HIV/AIDS risk in DC and, arguably, in producing race and ethnic disparities in that risk. As part of the preparation for this conference, and to increase collaboration across centers at AU, CHRS is working with the Center on Latino and Latin American Studies (CLALS) to include the issue of the health impacts of deportation within immigrant communities. In addition to providing a space for intellectual engagement among health scholars, the center also acquired licenses to various analytical software programs in the past year. CHRS is now equipped with ArcGIS, NVivo, SPSS, STATA and UCINet, which are open for use by faculty, staff, and students affiliated with CHRS. The center sponsored a one-day training session on NVivo in May 2012. The CHRS website now features all faculty affiliated with the center and their specific topical and methodological expertise. Next year, the focus will be on forming collaborative teams in support of the development of grant proposals, organizing groups around specific topic areas, and continuing the expansion of our presence as a center of excellence in health research in the Washington, DC area. To learn more about the center and its activities, or to become involved, please visit the CHRS website (

Emily Parker Wins Eastern Sociological Society’s Undergraduate Research Award by Abbey Becker

Photo by Laura Vogler

As a sophomore, Emily Parker (BA ‘12), interned with a social worker at a nonprofit organization that worked with elderly tenants of apartment buildings or subsidized housing in the District to help prevent eviction, mainly due to hoarding issues. When she enrolled in Professor Michael Bader’s Health and the City course, he suggested that she submit an abstract to present at the ESS. Parker presented her poster in New York at the conference. “A lot of people were really excited about the topic and couldn’t believe when I told them that there’s never been any sociological research on it,” she says. “My research is trying to initiate a sociological understanding of the subject,” says Parker. She wanted to frame the subject as less of an individual psychological problem and focus more on the larger societal factors that manifest themselves in individual behaviors. “These were factors like trauma in one’s life, social isolation, lack of family ties, unemployment, socioeconomic status, and especially aging and how aging in our society in particular can precipitate hoarding behavior,” she explains.

While hoarding isn’t exclusive to lower income population, it’s certainly more apparent. “It’s more obvious if you don’t have the means to store your things or pay for someone to clean up your apartment, or if you don’t have someone coming in to inspect,” says Parker. “If you own a mansion, then people probably won’t know if you hoard.”

Photo by Natalia Ruiz-Junco

Editors’ note: Please see expanded story on the department website

American University Department of Sociology Newsletter


Department of Sociology News and Notes FACULTY Over the summer, Michael Bader will continue development of a platform using Google Street View to measure neighborhood environments. The project is funded by a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant. He published two journal articles: the first, in City and Community, investigates preferences for redeveloped neighborhoods; the second, in the American Journal of Public Health, examines the association between local racial residential segregation and low birth weight births in Michigan metropolitan areas. He was invited to a specialist meeting on the topic of Spatial Demography in December and a conference entitled “Great Cities, Ordinary Lives” at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and presented results from his own work at the Population Association of America meeting in May. This year he taught the classes Health in the City, Sociology of the City, and Power Privilege and Inequality. Monica Biradavolu has begun a new research project with colleagues from the NIH and the Department of Health. The Washington DCbased research is on the barriers to provision of HIV services for the severely mentally ill in the DC metropolitan area. She has continued her engagement with DC-DCFAR (District of Columbia Developmental Center for AIDS Research) and is now a member of a Scientific Working Group on mental illness and HIV. As assistant director, she continues to help build the Center on Health, Risk, and Society (CHRS) and work on Project Parivartan, an HIV research project based in Southern India. In the past year, she published two papers in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, based on data from Project Parivartan. Kim Blankenship continues work on three large collaborative projects funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2 different research projects on HIV risk and prevention in India) and one from NIDA (a longitudinal mix-methods study of the impact of movement between the criminal justice system and the community on race disparities in HIV). She has been awarded a large subcontract to collaborate with Blair Johnson (Psychology, UCONN, funded by NIMH) in which she will lead a meta-analysis of structural interventions for HIV prevention. She also received a grant to hold a fall conference on community disruption and HIV risk in DC (see related story). She accomplished making American University one of six institutional partners in the DC Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DC-DCFAR), offering resources to AU faculty interested in conducting HIV-related research. This past year, she presented at various professional meetings and published a book chapter and six articles in such journals as Social Science and Medicine, Journal of Infectious Diseases, and Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, many of these were collaborations with current or former post-doctoral fellows and graduate students. She taught her first undergraduate course, Gender, Poverty and Health, which subsequently won the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning’s award for Teaching with Research. This past year, Jill Niebrugge-Brantley served as President of the District of Columbia Sociological Society (DCSS). Along with Patricia Lengermann, she presented at the Eastern Sociological Society (ESS) and with Roberta Spalter-Roth (PhD ‘84) of the American Sociological Association (ASA) on the panel “Stories of Women: Race, Class and Status in Historical Context.” This summer, Lengermann and Niebrugge-Brantley are scheduled to present at the Society for the Study of Social Problems meetings in a thematic session on “NonProfit Organizations and Engagement in Communities.” They have just

finished three manuscripts: one for a volume of papers based on the theme of last year’s SSSP conference; a second, in the Essays in Classical Sociological Theory series; and a third in George Ritzer’s Contemporary Social Theory and Its Classical Roots. Andrea Malkin Brenner continues to serve as undergraduate advisor, honors coordinator, and AU abroad advisor. In addition to teaching the capstone class, she directs internships in the department. She also serves on the general education curriculum committee for CAS. Recently, she published several entries in the Encyclopedia on Death and Dying, including submissions on animism, cannibalism, curses, totemism, and superstition. Esther Ngan-ling Chow, Professor Emerita, made a presentation, “Feminist Strategies for Creative Retirement,” at the winter meeting of the Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS). She co-edited a book, Social Production and Reproduction at the Interface of Public and Private Spheres, volume 16 of Advances in Gender Research, to be published by Emerald Press in 2012. She also continues her work with the True Light Foundation. Alan Dahl continues to teach critical social thought and global sociology. His continues his research (with Natalia Ruiz-Junco) on the role of emotions in the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. Their paper “Milltown Emotions” was presented at the 2011 annual conference of the International Society for Research on Emotions in Kyoto, Japan. He submitted three entries to The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Social Class (forthcoming 2012) including those on the readjusters, the greenbackers, and place, space, and class (with co-author Dwight Billings). Bette Dickerson continued her service-learning and community engagement work with community partners in South Africa as the faculty sponsor of AU’s Alternative Break: South Africa. She also developed the 8-week Community-based Learning and Service Program: South Africa for AU’s Center for Community Engagement and Service. Her work in South Africa was featured in articles published in AMERICAN: Magazine of American University (May 2011) and A&U: America’s AIDS Magazine (Dec. 2011). She is a member of the Planning Committee for the 2012 annual meeting of the International Association of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement. This year, she presented papers at the ESS and the Southern Sociological Society meetings. In addition to coediting two books (Black Senior Women: Race, Age, and Sexuality and Notions of Family: Intersectional Perspectives), she has a forthcoming book chapter, “Single Mothering in Poverty: Black Feminist Considerations” in Advances in Gender Research. Currently, she is on the advisory board of a study of Black women called “Outlook on Life and Political Engagement” funded by the National Science Foundation. Kate Frank, scholar in residence, is currently working on a book tentatively titled Plays Well in Groups: An Anthropologist Journeys through the World of Group Sex. The book is expected to be published in 2013. She continues to teach the Feminist and Gender Theory course for the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program.


American University Department of Sociology Newsletter

Brenda Kirkwood served as Instructor of Sociology and Assistant Director of the Public Health program. In addition to launching AU’s new public health major and minor, Dr. Kirkwood remains active in national initiatives aimed at undergraduatepublic health education. She recently presented on this topic at the annual meetings of the American Public Health Association and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. In spring 2012, she completed her doctoral degree from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. We wish her well in her new endeavors.

Randa Serhan has been keeping busy revising the Arab Studies Program and bolstering its presence on campus. In November 2011, a book she co-edited, American Democracy and the Pursuit of Equality, was published by Paradigm Press. She also published “Palestinian and Jordanian immigrants,” in Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans by ABC-CLIO Publishers. She served on several scholarship panels at AU and an USAID grant panel. Over the summer, she will be working on a book about assimilation and identity politics of Palestinian-Americans titled, Suspended Community.

Susan McDonic continues her exploration into Buddhist International development processes and philosophy. This year she initiated and organized the first annual “Ten Days for Tibet” on campus, featuring varied events and speakers on Tibet. She also continues to serve as the faculty advisor for the Alternative Break Program and will travel to Northern India for the third time. Additionally, she is the faculty advisor for Students for Tibet. This past year, she served as chair of the speakers and events committee for the department.

Jurg Siegenthalar, professor emeritus, has been engaged in consultancy research on pension and elder issues. He has spent the year volunteering for the centennial of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he co-organized an academic symposium on historical and contemporary labor issues. In the fall, he is producing a “speaker’s tent” on urban and labor history for the Bread and Roses Labor Day Festival; his wife, Linda, serves as chair of the Bread and Roses Heritage Committee.

This summer, Michelle Newton-Francis will be conducting fieldwork on erotic labor in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Expanding on her research in the U.S., she is beginning comparative research, with Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, on Hooters in the U.S. and Colombia. She continues to serve on the council of the Body and Embodiment section of the ASA, and chairs an award committee for the DCSS.

After retiring in 2010, Russell Stone chaired an interdisciplinary search committee for a new director of AU’s Center for Israel Studies, who will also be the inaugural Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies.

With an international team of eight scholars, Celine-Marie Pascale is applying for a European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Basic Research Grant to examine how the standardization of language use (Spanish, English, and French) in industrial and service sector call centers both facilitates work and maintains linguistic hierarchies of race, class, and gender. This year, Pascale presented papers at the International Institute of Sociology (IIS) 40th World Congress in Dehli, India, and at the Second Sociological World Forum in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her second book, Cartographies of Knowledge, won the 2012 International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry Award for an English language book that makes an important contribution to the field of qualitative inquiry for “charting new territories.” Pascale’s newest book Social Inequalities in a Global Landscape: The Politics of Representation is forthcoming this summer (with Sage). In March, Natalia Ruiz-Junco was quoted on volunteerism in the U.S. in El País, a national Spanish newspaper. Her work on identity construction in the Spanish environmental movement was published in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. She also published on self-estrangement in Current Perspectives in Social Theory. She was an invited panelist at the Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias y Humanidades of the Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City (see related story). In February, she attended the ESS meetings, where she was an invited panelist. Rachel Robinson published two articles during the past year: the first connects family planning interventions with later HIV outcomes in African countries, out in the Journal of the International AIDS Society; the second, on population policy in Nigeria, came out in Population Research and Policy Review. Her ongoing work includes Intimate Interventions, a book analyzing the relationship between pregnancy prevention and HIV prevention in Africa and collaborative work on the predictors of health outcomes at the sub-national level in Africa. This summer, she will be running for a position on the council of the newly formed Sociology of Development section of the ASA. In addition, she will be collecting data on NGOs at the biennial International AIDS Conference here in DC.

During 2012, Salvador Vidal-Ortiz is enjoying a sabbatical in Bogotá, Colombia, and continues his research on displacement and forced migration (post-Fulbright). He is serving as liaison for SWS’ Global Feminist Partnership - with the Instituto Pensar of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and is the convener/editor for a creative writing book on the experiences and organizing of Colombian trans people and their allies, to be published by Instituto Pensar. He is a guest editorial board member for the Journal of Homosexuality on a “trans-sexualities” themed issue; part of the editorial board of Duke’s new journal, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and co-chair for the Caucus on Transnational Approaches to Gender and Sexuality. This summer, he will teach a course, Sociological Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity, as an invited Faculty-in-Residence Teaching Program (FIRST) professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Chenyang Xiao continues his research on environmental attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. A manuscript examining gender dimensions on this subject will appear in Society and Natural Resources. Another manuscript examining the relationship between environmental concern and attitudes toward science and technology in the USA is also forthcoming in Environment and Behavior. Along with a Chinese colleague, he completed a book project that examines public perceptions of environmental issues and support for environmental policies in Mainland China (to be published in 2012). To overcome data issues encountered in these projects, Dr. Xiao and five colleagues (one from AU) are seeking external funding for an international survey that aims to compare and contrast China and the U.S. in terms of concerns for both environment and health. Gay Young continues to serve as director of the graduate program. This marked her last year as the director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program after seven years of service. She chaired the search committee resulting in the hire of jimi adams (see related story). This summer, she will travel again to Jerusalem, which is the base for her ongoing research on Israeli women’s and feminist peace activism that involves interviews with activists and participation in actions of protest and resistance to the occupation.

American University Department of Sociology Newsletter

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS In April, Margaret Campbell presented her capstone project on Sexuality and Social Media at the Momentum: Making Waves in Sexuality, Relationships, and Feminism Conference in Washington, DC. Emily Parker won the ESS Undergraduate Research Award for her poster presentation on hoarding in the elderly population in low income, urban environments (see related story). As a social action project requirement for the SPA Leadership Program, Zach Baldwin produced an educational video on what it means to be transgendered.

GRADUATE STUDENTS This spring, Rebekah Israel, co-developed/co-lead the Alternative Break: Haiti program sponsored by AU’s Center for Community Engagement and Service. At the ASA meetings this summer, Erik Kojola and professor Chenyang Xiao will present a paper that explores union membership and environmental beliefs and attitudes. In the fall of 2012, Kaleemah Sumarah will begin the PhD program at Wayne State University in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan, where she has been an activist on various issues. She recently presented a paper on activism at the ESS meetings in New York and was awarded a stipend to attend the 2012 Summer Workshop on African American Aging at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Sarah Okorie also presented a paper at the 2012 ESS meetings in New York. She will pursue a PhD in sociology at the University of Central Florida where she received two major funding awards: UCF Trustees Doctoral Fellowship (internal) and the Florida Education Fund’s (FEF) Mcknight Doctoral Fellowship (external).

ALUMNI As an incident management analyst at the Department of Homeland Security, Carimanda Baynard (MA ‘10) monitors disaster preparedness, crisis management, and emergency management related issues that could potentially impact national security. In September 2011, Kameisha Bennett (MA ‘07) joined Interfaith Works as the new Programs and Administration Officer. In this role, Bennett provides oversight to all programs and work to better aid in communication between the staff and programs. Katie Beran (BA ‘09) is graduating from the law school of the University of Pennsylvania and will soon begin working at a law firm in Philadelphia. She co-founded the Penn Law Civil Rights Law Project (CRLP), one of the larger pro bono student projects at the law school, where student volunteers have worked on civil rights legal issues through internship placements and ad-hoc research assignments. Her article, “Revisiting the Prostitution Debate: Uniting Liberal and Radical Feminism in Pursuit of Policy Reform” was published in Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice. Sarah Bruce Bernal (MA ‘11) currently works in the Office of International Programs for the Food and Drug Administration. Maria Bryant (PhD ‘11) has received the Excellence in Teaching award from the National Society of Leadership and Success.

6 Anna-Britt Coe (BA ‘89, MA ‘98) is currently in a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Umeå Center for Gender Studies (where she received her PhD in sociology in 2010). For the post-doc, she is completing research that compares youth and adult feminist activists in Peru and Ecuador. This year, she returned to Ecuador to share and discuss the findings on youth activism on sexual and reproductive health with young activists as well as policymakers. Joanna Dees (MA ‘10) currently serves as the Director of Corporate Relations and Supplier Diversity at the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Rosemary Erickson (PhD ‘94) was recently quoted in USA Today on crime near train stations and airports. She was also interviewed on two television programs, 20/20 and the Dr. Phil Show, on the importance of not resisting in a robbery. Tekisha Everette (PhD ‘11) is the managing director of federal government affairs for the American Diabetes Association. Tara Mancini (MA ‘10) is a research assistant at the Georgetown Health Policy Institute, Center for Children and Families, whose focus is strengthening public health insurance programs, such as Medicaid and CHIP, and implementation issues related to the Affordable Care Act. Susan Archer Mann (MA ‘75) is professor and associate chair of the department of sociology at the University of New Orleans. Her book, Doing Feminist Theory: From Modernity to Postmodernity, was published this year by Oxford University Press. Enrique Pumar (PhD ‘99) currently serves as the sociology department chair at Catholic University, where he is also a fellow and executive board member of the Institute for Catholic Research and Policy Studies. In 2011, he was elected to the Sociology of Development Council for the ASA. This summer his edited volume, Hispanic Migration and Urban Development, will be published. He also has two manuscripts forthcoming; one in Theory in Action and the other in the UDC Law Review Journal. Recently, he was awarded a grant to advise the Smithsonian Office of Latino Affairs on a project of Hispanic migration to DC. During his first year of the doctoral program at the University of Texas, Austin, Brandon Robinson (BA ‘09) has an article forthcoming in Sexuality Research & Social Policy. This summer, he will present two papers at the ASA meetings, one at the sexualities mini-conference (pre-ASA) and the other at the sexualities roundtables. Rima Sabban (PhD ‘96) published Maids Crossing: Domestic Workers in the UAE in March 2012. The book explores the treatment of domestic workers in the UAE. Eliz Storelli (MA ‘09) finished coursework and exams for her PhD in Sociology (Boston College) and is now working on her dissertation proposal. She is back in the DC area and works part-time as the Development and Volunteer Coordinator at Community Family Life Services, a non-profit providing housing and social services to homeless and low income persons in DC.

IN MEMORIUM With sadness, we report the death of Merhad Mashayekhi (PhD ‘79) who passed away in October 2011. Born in Iran, and a scholar on post-revolutionary Iran, he taught at a number of schools in the DC metropolitan area and was most recently a visiting professor at Georgetown University.

American University Department of Sociology Newsletter


Congratulations to Our Newest Alumni Graduates Cynthia Bragg PhD Dissertation: Women’s Leadership in the Black Church: Barriers to and Empowerment of Clergywomen in the Church of God in Christ Gina Finelli PhD Dissertation: From the Dinner Table to the Boardroom: The Effects of Nepotism on Family Businesses Ashawnda Fleming PhD Dissertation: Lifting as We Climb: A Study of African-American Lesbian Community Building in Baltimore City Christine Gordon MA Thesis: Sexuality and Student Health: Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Resources and Information at American University Natasha McClendon MA Thesis: The Influence of Math and Natural Science Discourse on Black Women’s Performance, Self-Concept and Retention in Math and Natural Science Sally Mohamed PhD Dissertation: Idealized Masculinity: Images of White Men’s Bodies and White Men’s Ideas about Masculinity Jordan Naod PhD Dissertation: Informationalism: Computer Systems and the Values of Triple Surplus Labor

Cynthia Parris PhD Dissertation: Sociology of Knowledge Military Suicide Elizabeth Poluka MA Thesis: A Frame Analysis of Probation and Parole Officer Attitudes and Perceptions of Reentrants Nina Smith PhD Dissertation: Great Expectations: The Role of SelfPerception and Educational Expectation on the CollegeBound Preparatory Process Black Girls Implement Lori Sommerfelt MA Project: Marriage and Black Male College Students: An Intersectionality Approach Margarita Studemeister PhD Dissertation: The Political Incorporation through Citizenship of Salvadoran Forced Migrants in the Washington Metropolitan Area Saori Takahashi MA Thesis: Cypriot Women and Peace Negotiations: Perceptions of the Process and Issues of Concern Lucilia Villa Nova Tremura PhD Dissertation: Transnational Migrant Brazilian Women in “Pink Collar Jobs” in the Greater Washington DC Area Tiffany Waits PhD Dissertation: Pierre Bourdieu’s Theory of Capital and Parental School Choice Decisions: A National Study

Dora Oduor PhD Dissertation: The Millennium Development Goals and the Role of Partners in Development: The Influence of FaithBased Organizations on HIV/AIDS Prevention in Kenya Sarah Okorie MA Thesis: College Choice Priorities Between US-born Black and Foreign-born Black Students Robert O’Quinn PhD Dissertation: Modernization, Ethnicity, and Nationalism: Developing a Unifying National Identity in Multicultural Countries Formerly Subjugated to Colonialism

Undergraduates (Majors and Minors) Scott Berman Rachel Birnbaum Jaclyn Blumenfeld Abra Burkett Kanika Bynum Margaret Campbell Lauren Collier Blaise Corso Sam Dean Mary Donoghue Rachel Frank Asalou Givens Allison Godfrey Marina Gonzalez Sarah Hermans Jessie Himmelstern Sam Jackson Erik Jacobsen Bridget Joyce Kathleen McKenna Alison Olhava Emily Parker Casey Pladus Anne Probst Isabel Rosa Graham Salinger Adam Shachat Matthew Stewart Margaret Trachsel Laura Vogler Jue Wang Sara Westheim

Do you have news to share? We want to hear from you! Please send updates to The newsletter is edited by the communications committee: Monica Biradavolu; Michelle Newton-Francis; Chenyang Xiao; Salvador Vidal-Ortiz

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT Natalia Ruiz-Junco was invited to speak (in November 2011) at the Humanities and Social Sciences Institute of the prestigious Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), an important research-based university in Mexico City and the country as a whole. She spoke to the work of Marianne Weber, a feminist social theorist who made an important theoretical contribution in the area of gender and inequality. Weber is considered one of the “women founders” of classical social theory. Ruiz Junco’s presentation was entitled “The Women Founders in Sociological Discourse and Interpretive Theory.” With UNAM sociologist Maya Aguiluz, Dr. Ruiz Junco continues to build collaborations to think about classical sociological theory in these transnational conversations.

American University Department of Sociology Newsletter


Spotlight on Birth and Death Course Dr. Andrea Brenner’s passion to teach a course on the study of birth and death began when she was an undergraduate at Brandeis University. There, she took sociologist Dr. Morrie Schwartz’s course on birth and death. Schwartz was the inspiration for the book Tuesdays with Morrie. For the past five years, Brenner taught the Sociology of Birth and Death which is very popular among undergraduates. The course examines the sociological dimensions of “human entry and exit” which are commonly discussed as “natural.” Students explore the ways in which entry/exit is structured by socio-cultural forces which support, control, and constrain the contexts in which birth and death happens. This exploration includes field trips to a funeral home and maternity ward, guest speakers, and a pregnancy simulation. Two major assignments, a birthography and deathography, allow students to apply course content to their everyday lives. For the birthography, students examine the events leading up to their birth, the actual birthing process, and its aftermath using interviews with those who remember it. For the

Photo by Laura Vogler

deathography, students reflect on end of life issues and work with an older family member to construct a living will. The course impacts students’ lives. Ellen Frye (BA ‘08), took the course after the death of her mother and learned that “while grief often presents itself in similar ways among grievers, it is not a linear process.” Matthew Stewart (BA ‘12) found that the course helped him realize “how sociology and medicine intersect,” which in part influenced his decision to pursue a career in nursing with a focus on hospice and palliative care. Overall, the class aims to demystify the processes of birth and birthing and death and dying.

Welcome, jimi adams! In fall 2012, the department welcomes Dr. jimi adams (PhD, Ohio State University) as Assistant Professor of Sociology. He will also work closely with the CHRS. Most recently, he served as Assistant Professor in the School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, where he was affiliated with the Center for Population Dynamics. His research interests are in social networks, health, and demography. His work focuses on social networks as they pertain to (1) information diffusion within and across organizations and (2) the spread and control of infectious diseases. Much of this work has focused on HIV-prevention in high-risk populations. In the fall, he will teach the undergraduate social research methods course and an honors course on social networks. Photo by jimi adams

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Sociology Newsletter, 2012-2013  
Sociology Newsletter, 2012-2013  

News from the Department of Sociology at American University in Washington, DC