Karen Hansen (1983)

Professor of Sociology & Women’s and Gender Studies, Brandeis University

In the Berkeley sociology department, I found my intellectual home. I was drawn to Berkeley in part because it was teaming with smart, creative colleagues from the editorial collective of Socialist Review, and in part because it was far and away the best place to study historical sociology from a feminist perspective.

My interest in women's history, class inequality, and contemporary families deepened at Berkeley and continues to motivate my teaching and scholarship. Berkeley gave me analytic tools, the courage to be creative and independent in my choice of topics and methodological approaches, and role models. If I close my eyes, I can easily see Arlie Hochschild's long hands sculpting a thought or hear Carol Hatch wryly skewering a sloppy argument.

With that Berkeley stamp of methodological innovation (quirkiness?), my new book, Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930, uses historical maps, photographs, and oral histories to explore racial-ethnic inequality and coexistence on an Indian reservation.

In 1999-2000, I was a fellow at the Berkeley Center for Working Families. To the delight of my contemporary sociologist friends, I was finally doing research squarely in the present! With Barrie Thorne and Arlie providing leadership and inspiration, the center proved the ideal forum for analyzing inequalities and kinship, profoundly shaping my book, Not-So-Nuclear Families: Class, Gender, and Networks of Care.

I have co-edited three anthologies with colleagues who have Berkeley ties: At the Heart of Work and Family: Engaging the Ideas of Arlie Hochschild, and Families in the U.S.: Kinship and Domestic Politics, with Anita Ilta Garey; and Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination, with Ilene J. Philipson.

Dissertation Title: 
Transcending the Public/Private Divide: The Social Dimension of Laborer's Lives,1860-1910
Dissertation Book Title: 
A very social time : crafting community in antebellum New England
University of California Press
Berkeley