Gail Kligman (1973)

Professor, UC, Los Angeles

Berkeley marked the beginning of an intellectual and professional odyssey that has resonated positively and negatively in all aspects of my life. I transferred to Berkeley from Reed in 1968 for an unforgettable sophomore year, the sociological lessons of which were learned more in the streets than in classrooms. That year and my subsequent years in the department undoubtedly shaped my commitment to studying social change and how people made sense of it in their everyday lives. A summer trip through the Balkans motivated by political and cultural interests cemented my research trajectory in graduate school. Geo-political constraints, however, compelled me to pursue dissertation research in Romania rather than in the former Yugoslavia. Since then, I have done extensive ethnographic research on topics ranging from ritual traditions during state socialism to an ethnography of the state analyzed through the Ceausescu regime's reproductive politics, to comparative research on the politics of gender and of poverty since the collapse of communism in Central East Europe. In consequence of such research, my academic identity has often been questioned: am I a sociologist? An anthropologist? The rhetorical celebration of interdisciplinary studies notwithstanding, transgressing borders (international or disciplinary) has repeatedly proven problematic. Not surprisingly, much of my research focuses on the relationship between discourse and practice in socialist and postsocialist states, and on gender and political cultures. My experiences at Berkeley as a student and thereafter have also contributed importantly to my dedication to teaching students and mentoring junior colleagues here and abroad.

Dissertation Title: 
Calus: Ritual Reversal in Romania
Dissertation Book Title: 
C*alu*s : symbolic transformation in Romanian ritual