My teaching areas include comparative and historical research, cultural sociology, sociology of globalization and transnationalism, qualitative methods, and sociological theory.
Humanitarian Activism and Civil Society (Lecture, Spring 2017, Spring 2018; syllabus): International humanitarian organizations are often first on the scene when armed conflicts erupt or natural disasters strike, but their efficiency and legitimacy are constantly questioned. This course examines humanitarian activism from a sociological perspective by looking at its history and its role in contemporary society. We will examine the origins of organized humanitarian activism and the dilemmas and challenges that NGOs must often face. We will investigate the consequences, justifications, and limitations of humanitarian work, focusing substantively on several case studies including the Kosovo War, the Nigerian Civil War, and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The course will conclude with presentations based on students' independent research and exploration of an applied topic from the course.
Junior Tutorial: Collective Identity (Tutorial, Spring 2018): Blue collar and middle class, Blacks and Latinx, Christians and Muslims, Americans and French–groups have, by their very definition, some criteria to discern those who belong from those who do not, whether they are as large as whole nations, or as small as a group of friends. But what does it mean for a group to have a collective identity? This course will examine what collective identity is and how we can study it sociologically. It will ask questions such as Does a collective identity rely on group members sharing the same past experiences, or does it rely on them facing similar present circumstances? To what extent do group members have to agree on what their collective identity is, and how are disagreement and conflicts managed? How do group members engage in identity politics, and how do they compare their groups to others? The course will begin with a review of sociological literature that addresses some of the key debates on this topic. Moving forward, students will design and complete their own research projects. Each student will choose a group in the Boston area or on campus, formulate a research question, and conduct participant observations and / or interviews. The course will cover the various steps of the research process, from formulating a research question through collecting and analyzing data and reviewing existing literature, to constructing the final paper.
Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations (Lecture, Fall 2016, Fall 2017; syllabus): Most moral and religious frameworks uphold some form of benevolence and charity. However, societies have different ways of thinking about the roles of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. This course investigates the nature of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations and their influence on civil society. We will consider different sociological approaches to charitable giving and apply them to substantive topics, such as competing philosophies of giving and the relationship between philanthropic and state-sponsored programs. We will also address issues of social responsibility that arise when corporate actors engage in philanthropic work. As a culminating active learning exercise, students will identify and evaluate nonprofits as potential donation recipients, and will assess the impact a donation would make for those organizations.
- Social Trauma and Collective Identity (Seminar, Spring 2017; syllabus): Even though trauma is often a personal experience, it can also affect groups, regions, and even whole nations. This course explores the notion of social trauma by focusing on its emergence, commemoration, and transmission in different societies. How do ideas of trauma stay constant across generations? And what are the consequences of these processes in a variety of sites such as politics, social activism, art, and domestic life? The main analytic assignment enables students to further explore a site of their choice that represents collective trauma. Upon collection of primary evidence, students will analyze their case using the concepts and readings covered in class.
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