Spring 2013 Asef Bayat Named Bastian Professor On October 2, 2012, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences hosted an investiture for Professor Asef Bayat , who was named as the Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor in Global and Transnational Studies. Throughout his career, Professor Bayat has been widely recognized as an international authority on contemporary Islamic societies. One strand of his research focuses on Islamic political culture. As Islamist movements assumed positions of power, they built regimes based on doctrinal teachings of Islamic texts, reinforcing a religious ideology. Yet these regimes have had to adapt to the demands of the people who brought them to power. In his book, Making Islam Democratic, Professor Bayat illustrated
In this Issue 1 Asef bayat’s investiture 2 faculty spotlight 3 lincoln hall rededication 4-5 alumni spotlight 6 Undergraduate Spotlight 7 Graduate Spotlight 8 stay in touch
Department of Sociology University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 3120 Lincoln Hall, MC-454 702 South Wright Street Urbana, IL 61801
the influence of what he called “postIslamist” movements. In a comparative study of Egypt and Iran, he showed that these movements have drawn on Islamic values to make demands for basic citizenship rights and democratic practices, even when those rights and everyday practices might contradict Islamic legal codes. According to Bayat, this active citizenry may pose the greatest threat to repressive states. He writes: “Authoritarian regimes may be
Photo courtesy of Thompson-McClellan Photgraphy
“Authoritarian regimes may be able to suppress organized movements or silence collectives, but they are limited when it comes to stifling an entire society, the mass of ordinary citizens in their daily lives.” able to suppress organized movements or silence collectives, but they are limited when it comes to stifling an entire society, the mass of ordinary citizens in their daily lives.” In a related article, “The Politics of Fun,” Professor Bayat writes about efforts by Iran (and other authoritarian regimes) to abolish fun – no drinking, no music, no movies, no dancing, no sports, nothing that might distract subjects
from complete devotion to the regime and its prescription for living a good life. That’s because fun is transgressive; it implies rebellion and challenges the dominant ideological paradigms, and so must be suppressed. Perhaps the most compelling theme in Professor Bayat’s scholarship is the political significance of ordinary people in their daily lives. In the United States, we have a phrase: “The personal is political.” While many political sociologists (and political scientists) focus their attention on political systems and institutions, Bayat has studied the way that ordinary people create political and cultural change simply through what he calls “quiet encroachment.” (Article continues on pg. 5)
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2 Faculty Spotlight
Sociology Returns to Lincoln Hall
Mendenhall Explores Neighborhood Effects on Black Women’s Mental Health In 2010, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced Healthy People 2020 goals for promoting good health and disease prevention. On average, approximately 1 in 17 adults in the U.S. suffer from seriously debilitating mental illness, and African American women are particularly at risk for depression and suicide. Unfortunately, Black women also face barriers when they try to access the resources they need to treat or to prevent their depression. More importantly, the social scientific community is unfamiliar with multi-level mechanisms that protect Black women from the many factors that place them at risk of depression. Professor Ruby Mendenhall is working on an ambitious new project that promises to explore these mechanisms. In the study that she’s designing, she plans to examine the ways that neighborhoods and communities shape the mental health of Black women. She argues that the recent housing crisis and the Great Recession represent major structural shifts in Black America, and these changes have had a major impact on Black women’s mental health. In 2009, the average rate of foreclosures in Black and Latino neighborhoods in Chicago were triple the rate present in White communities (See Figure
1). During the weekend of March 17-18, 2012 in Chicago, a total of 49 people were shot and 10 died, including a 6-year old girl (Chicago Sun Times March 2012 and U.S. News March 2012). This was one of the most violent weekends in recent history. Professor Mendenhall’s project brings together theories from many different disciplines, emphasizing the intersectionality of Black women’s experiences. Intersectionality refers to the interlocking ways that low-income Black women are often marginalized due to their race, class and gender. Professor Mendenhall plans to explore the ways that their marginalization affects the quality of resources they use; their role strains as mothers, providers, and partners; how they manage to cope with high levels of stress; and what happens when their mental health and physical well-being is threatened. Professor Mendenhall has recently filed a grant proposal with the National Institutes of Health to collect an elaborate array of data. She will be using demographic data collected in the National Survey of American Life, which is the only major study to have data about mental disorders and social, political and economic factors on a nationally representative sample of African Americans. She is planning to bring sophisticated statistical techniques to parsing out the neighborhood effects on mental health.
Source: National People’s Action (March 2010). The Home Foreclosure Crisis in Chicago: An Assessment of Foreclosures and their Impacts in 2009 (page 14).
The platform party at the Lincoln Hall Redication cuts the ribbon. (Photo courtesy of Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois News Bureau)
She also plans to collect qualitative data through interviews with women living on the south side of Chicago, a community plagued by violence. Finally, Professor Mendenhall plans to better understand the physiological stress process by collecting biomarkers such as the stress hormone cortisol and inflammatory markers (e.g., C-reactive protein and cytomegalovirus). Several undergraduate students have worked with Professor Mendenhall on her grant proposal because they were interested in learning more about how to conduct research and write grants. These students have interviewed youth and their parents about their experiences with violence and stress. They have researched statistics on foreclosures in Black segregated areas, Black unemployment, and Black women’s levels of depression. One of the undergraduates has recently been accepted into graduate school (Social Work at Illinois) and plans to continue researching issues around Black women, stress, and neighborhoods. This new project is an extension of Professor Mendenhall’s previous research. Her dissertation research was about families relocated in a housing program in Chicago and has published widely on the political economy of housing and race. She has also done extensive research about racial climate and racial microaggressions. Chicago Sun Times - Mayor Rahm Emanuel http://www.suntimes.com/news/cityhall/11489282-418/ mayor-calls-city-violence-unacceptable-mccarthyretools-anti-gang-strategy.html Chicago Sun Times http://www.suntimes.com/news/crime/11392878-418/ story.html U.S. News http://usnews.msnbc.msn. com/_news/2012/03/19/10758488-chicago-bloodbath6-year-old-among-those-killed
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Governor Quinn rubs Lincoln’s nose for good luck. (Photo courtesy of Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois News Bureau)
Lincoln Hall Rededication – February 12, 2013 Over 350 guests gathered to commemorate the cerGovernor Quinn spoke about the promise of land emonial ribbon-cutting to mark the rededication of grant institutions such as University of Illinois to ensure Lincoln Hall following the three year renovation that end- that education was available to all, a legacy of Lincoln ed in May 2012. Hall’s namesake via the Morrill Act. The proceedings College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Ruth Watkins concluded with a rousing performance of “Illinois” by welcomed the crowd and handed over the proceedings the University of Illinois Black Chorus and the ceremoto notable speakers including University of Illinois Board nial ribbon cutting. During the celebration, guests took of Trustees Chair Christopher Kennedy, Governor Pat self-guided tours that included stops to rub Lincoln’s Quinn, University of Illinois President Robert A. Easter, nose. The Sociology Department invites all of you to and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancel- come and visit so that you can too! lor Phyllis M. Wise, among others.
Michael A. Harring and Lois Dal Harring pose in front of the conference room named after them in the Sociology department in Lincoln Hall during Homecoming weekend, October, 2012.
U n i v e r s i t y o f I l l i n o i s | D e pa r t m e n t o f S o c i o l o g y | s o c i o l o g y. i l l i n o i s . e d u
Meet the New Faculty
Alumni Spotlight 5
4 Alumni Spotlight
Douglas Barnes Wins LAS Alumni Achievement Award for Research on Sustainable Household Energy
Sanchez works to reduce violence in Chicago and beyond
Sociology Department alumni, Dr. Douglas Barnes, won the 2013 LAS Alumni Achievement Award based on his outstanding professional accomplishments in the field of worldwide rural development, most recently his work on behalf of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an initiative sponsored by the US State Department. Dr. Barnes received his Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology in 1979. Since then, he has worked as a consultant for the World Bank and other organizations, providing support and leadership on projects addressing the intersection of poverty and renewable energy.
A recent graduate of the University of Illinois Sociology Department, class of 2010, Vanessa Sanchez launched into a career at a non-profit violence prevention program, CeaseFire, to raise awareness about violence in Chicago communities. From youth communities in Chicago proper to the neighboring suburbs, Sanchez is heavily involved with planning and developing prevention activities for the youth. “The goal is to get high risk youth back on track and help change their mindset from the idea that violence is the norm, to a more positive and productive lifestyle,” says Sanchez.
Dr. Barnes developed his interest in international development as a Peace Corps volunteer in Maharashtra, India, where he worked on an agricultural pumping project. It was there that he first developed an interest in rural poverty and the electrification of rural areas. His dissertation in the Sociology Department was inspired, in part, by this experience. Entitled “The Impact of Agricultural Development on Social Structure in India,” his research focused on how changes in agricultural production led to social change, including the disruption of the caste system and the greater participation of women in the workforce. Upon completing his dissertation, Dr. Barnes went to work for the non-profit organization, Resources for the Future, acting as a consultant to the World Bank, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, and the US Agency for International Development. Later, he was one of the first ten sociologists employed by the World Bank. He has ob-
served: “Sociology brings a unique perspective to the issues that are part of everyday life and as part of the development of life and society improving projects sponsored by such development institutions as the World Bank.” Dr. Barnes has offered these organizations his expertise on the intersection of household and rural energy, the environment, and equity in the developing world. For example, Dr. Barnes was part of the team that designed the Bangladesh Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Project. This venture in household renewable energy successfully promoted solar home systems for families in areas of Bangladesh that had no electricity. After 10 years, more than 700,000 people were able to purchase these solar home systems through a program of both grants and loans to make them affordable, and today, more than a million homes
have such systems. Dr. Barnes’ expertise was crucial in working out the institutional and social issues that must be resolved for successful implementation of these programs. Most recently, Dr. Barnes has been a leader in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves – the primary means of cooking in the developing world – causes a wide range of physical ailments and premature death, especially among women and children. The Alliance hopes to replace these open fires with fuel efficient cookstoves. This initiative will hopefully reduce the exposure to smoke and improve the environment.
Sanchez enjoys working within different communities and feels privileged to be where she is. “I’m honored to work with a wide range of individuals; esteemed professionals, respected street savvy case managers, and courageous Violence Interrupters who work on the front lines to try and stop violence before it happens. I have the best of both worlds. I have to do desk work but more often than not, I’m out in the field seeing what is actually going on…” She says the most
rewarding part of her job is to witness the success stories of troubled youth changing for the better.
“Sociology makes you want to ask ‘why’ and dig a little deeper to truly understand…it is the modern medicine of thinking.” “It’s funny to see that topics and situations that we are dealing with at work are directly related to things I was sitting in lectures learning about.” She explains why her background in sociology helps her understand situations she encounters at work. “I have to consider each communities background and strategize how to appropriately work with the people and get the right message across to best suit that community. Sociology makes you want to ask ‘why’ and dig a little deeper to truly understand…it is the modern medicine of thinking.”
Vanessa Sanchez Community Coordinator and Technical Assistant The Chicago Project for Violence Prevention (CeaseFire) Class of 2010, B.A Sociology
(Continued from front page...Bayat Investiture) He has studied squatters and street vendors and women attending soccer matches – people who challenge authorities and create public spaces where they can establish a home or pursue a livelihood, daily activities that limit the reach of the state and that empower the poor, what Bayat calls “non-social movements.”
Douglas Barnes Ph.D. Class of 1979, Sociology
On campus, Professor Bayat is an active member of the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. He teaches the courses Middle Eastern Societies and Cultures, and Collective Action and Revolution.
Professor Bayat began his career at the American University of Cairo, where he was a professor of Sociology from 1994 to 2003. He joined the faculty at Leiden University where he was the Academic Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, as well as the Chair in Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East. He joined the Sociology Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2010. Professor Bayat’s reputation has won him invitations to give lectures and keynote addresses across Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East.
Graduate Student Spotlight
The Devil in Mr. Nelson - Cryonics and Nightmare Comedies Cryonic suspension, or “cryonics,” is the strange practice of freezing human corpses in hopes that scientists will at some future point achieve a level of medical technology so advanced that it will be possible repair virtually any damage sustained by the human body, cure disease, halt and initiate a reversal of the aging process, and yes, rejuvenate and “reanimate” the “deanimated,” those who lay in cryonic suspension. The ethos of cryonics is summed up nicely by a quirky expression, coined in the tumultuous American 1960s, which has since become something of a hallowed commonplace among latter day cryonics advocates: “Freeze-Wait-Reanimate.” Robert F. “Bob” Nelson, ca. 1967 As one might expect, cryonic suspen- the morning of Friday, June 10, 1979, he was sion’s history is punctuated by episodes overcome by the site: “the stench near the of controversy, misunderstanding, and ac- crypt is disarming, strips away all defenses, cusations of fraud and pseudoscientific spins the stomach into a thousand dizzying quackery—not to mention catastrophic di- somersaults.” (2) saster. Freezing People is Easy, an upcoming film by Zach Helm (Stranger than Fiction) and ”Freezing people is easy; mainAcademy Award winning director Errol Mor- taining them in a frozen state ris (The Fog of War), will to this end chronicle over the long term, however, as the plight of Robert F. “Bob” Nelson, a TV Nelson found out the hard way, is another matter entirely.” repairman, science-fiction enthusiast, and co-founder and former president of the longWhat transpired at Chatsworth under since defunct Cryonics Society of California Bob Nelson’s watch was so bizarre, so revolt(CSC). The film will draw from Nelson’s 1968 ing, so tragic, it seems appropriate that Helm memoir, We Froze the First Man, and “Mistakes and Morris have opted to engage the scandal Were Made,” the overwhelmingly popular through stylistic conventions approximat“cryonics” episode of Ira Glass’s radio show, ing those of the cinematic genre deployed This American Life. (1) to such masterful effect by Stanley Kubrick Freezing People is Easy (spoiler alert!) will in Dr. Strangelove—nightmare comedy. (3) offer an account of how Bob Nelson’s en- Boasting a first-rate cast that includes Paul thusiastic though remarkably amateurish Rudd (as Nelson), Owen Wilson (as mortician toilings in cryonics during the 1960s and Joseph Klockgether, Nelson’s collaborator), 70s conspired in producing the most disas- the one-and-only Kristen Wiig (as Nelson’s trous and damaging event in the history of wife), and the legendary Christopher Walken the practice—the abandonment, thawing, (as Robert C.W. “Bob” Ettinger, so-called and decomposition of nine cryonic sus- “father” of the cryonics movement), Freezpension “patients” interned in the CSC’s ing People is Easy will very likely make for a underground crypt at the Oakwood Memo- good laugh. I suspect, however, that Helm rial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, California; and Morris’s decision to portray Nelson as what is infamously known in cryonics circles Grant Shoffstall is a Ph.D. Candias the “Chatsworth Scandal.” The macabre nature of the incident can’t be underscored date in the Department of Sociology too heavily. Bodies, and tens of thousands and the Program in Science and Techof dollars, went missing. In cryo-suspension nology Studies at the University of capsules designed for one, Nelson crammed Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where two, three, even four “patients,” leaving scant he is completing his dissertation, “Bioroom for liquid nitrogen. Questions were medicalization, Cybernetics, and the evaded. Visitations were denied. Relatives ‘Prospect’ of Immortality: Towards a were kept in the dark. Rumors of something Historical Sociology of Cryonic Suspenamiss at Chatsworth circulated among cryon- sion, 1958-1979.” He has no intentions ics activists from coast to coast. When Valley of being placed in cryonic suspension News reporter David Walker finally ventured upon deanimating. to the by-then abandoned CSC facility on
Actor Paul Rudd, who will play Nelson in the upcoming film Freezing People is Easy.
a naïve but otherwise good and loveable character who simply gets in way over his head will evoke howls of protest the from the contemporary cryonics fraternity, sizable factions of which regard Nelson as a conman who perpetrated unspeakable evil at Chatsworth and beyond, forever trapping cryonics in the dreaded realm of “pseudoscience.” Bob Nelson’s culpability in the events at Chatsworth will remain open to debate; Helm and Morris have simply made the most recent move. I am concerned, however, that their cinematic rehabilitation of Nelson, even though satirical, may incite discourses that end up concealing far more than they reveal about cryonics, Chatsworth, and Bob Nelson himself. (4) This is not to say that the villainous Nelson of cryonics lore is somehow closer to the truth; that Morris and Helm’s portrayal is “biased.” No. The challenge is not to pinpoint Bob Nelson as a saint or the devil incarnate, but to recognize as dubious any attempt to “explain” a complex (Continued on page 7)
Undergraduate Student Spotlight
Sociology Junior Andrew Dolinar Awarded Competitive Language Fellowships to Study Russian In the Summer of 2012, Sociology Junior Andrew Dolinar spent two months in Kazan, Tartarstan, Russia due to his U.S Department of State Critical Language Scholarship. He is also a recipient of an Undergraduate Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship through The Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Center for the 2012-2013 Academic Year. Dolinar chose to study in Russia because he claims that there is much more to be explored and understood in post-socialist countries of Eastern Europe. “This area is still feeling the effects of a rapid transition to capitalism, western style democracy and a globalized economy. This has been manifested in many societal problems, including institutionalized homophobia, human trafficking and authoritarian inclinations.” He continues to address further issues in the region. “We are living in an increasingly global world, and because Russia in particular
is still a major economic and military power, the West needs to understand this part of the world. We need to work with this part of the world, and in order to do that we must examine its histories, its cultures, and its politics and see how they are impacting modern national and international policies and movements.” Dolinar shares his passion for sociology and politics by referring back to a class he had taken with Professor Brian Dill. “Political Sociology opened my eyes to the relationship we have with our government. I liked its focus on the ways in which we interact with our government, how we affect it and it affects us. It also introduced me to the study of nationalism. Learning how the modern conception of ‘nation’ was developed and the effects that has had on communities and cultures gave me a greater understanding of the area I am interested in. Nationalism in Eastern Europe has been a huge factor in regional politics and conflicts since the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.” Aside from his deep knowledge of politics and sociology, Dolinar shared his most memorable experience of his time in Russia. He considers a special encounter with an elderly woman that made him appreciate sociology all the more. He and his friend were approached by an elderly woman who traveled from a neighboring village just to see what Americans looked like. “She said she was surprised, that she did not expect us to look like we could be her grandkids.” Dolinar expresses his appreciation for sociology from this interaction. “This story has become more important to me the more I think about it, and the more
(The Devil in Mr. Nelson continued from page 6)
sponsibility, it is also sociologically and historically anemic.
sociohistorical event like Chatsworth by attributing its horrific outcome to Nelson’s flawed moral character. While such a yarn is loaded with the sort of cinematic possibilities that tend to resonate so powerfully with the twin American cults of hyper-individualism and personal re-
My concerns, of course, may prove to be unfounded. Like the nightmare comedy Dr. Strangelove before it, Freezing People is Easy may very well have the effect of inciting serious discourse about some of the most disturbing and destructive elements
I consider what I want to do with my life. Here is a woman who had spent a majority of her life hearing about us through the filter of the Soviet Union. In this moment of cross-cultural communication, we began to understand each other, and learn more about each other. This moment made me realize how important my communicating abilities, my ability to both speak Russian and understand the political, historical, and cultural situations of the people I communicate with, really are. “ Dolinar spent over two months studying at the Institute for Humanitarian and Social Studies where he was also able to travel extensively.
of postwar American culture: the denial of death, the denigration of the elderly, youthful hedonism, and a quasireligious faith in the destructive and regenerative power of modern technoscience. In the likelihood of such an outcome, we may then come to realize that we are not so very far removed from the world that gave rise to Bob Nelson’s strange ambitions in the first place.
Notes: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Robert F. Nelson with Sandra Stanley, We Froze the First Man (New York: Dell, 1968). For a link to “Mistakes Were Made” and a take on Freezing People is Easy by a highly respected cryonics insider, see Mike Darwin, “Freezing People is Easy,” Chronosphere: A Revolution in Time <http://chronopause.com/index. php/2012/05/07/freezing-people-is-easy/>. David Walker. “Valley Cryonic Crypt Desecrated, Untended.” The Valley News (June 10, 1979):11. The comparison of cryonics to Dr. Strangelove is owed to Jill Lepore, Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), Ch. 10. The present remarks are significantly indebted to John R. Hall, Gone From the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1987), Introduction.
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