Colloquia

Sociology Department Colloquium Series
Blumer Room - 402 Social Sciences Building
MONDAYS, 2:00 - 3:30 PM
[unless otherwise noted]

hybrid: 402 Social Sciences Bldg & Zoom
In this talk, I examine the micro-level processes that lead so many different-sex couples to reproduce rather than challenge gendered patterns in family life, despite their endorsement of egalitarian ideals. I use the case of cognitive labor, which is akin to project management for the household, to argue that one key process involves the selective erasure of gender from individuals’ self-understanding. I draw on 136 interviews with members of 76 different-sex couples to show how this “personal essentialist” logic allows respondents to acknowledge inequalities in partners’ household contributions but deny that these inequalities reflect their gender ideology. Instead, respondents understand their cognitive labor patterns to be a function of who they are—not as men and women but as individuals. While this perspective helps keep the peace, it also reduces the likelihood that respondents will seek change. These findings help explain how egalitarian intentions can fail to translate into egalitarian behaviors: cultural scripts related to individualism and self-expression enable couples to recast inequality as personal rather than gendered.
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via Zoom
Existing development theories predict that factors such as natural resource wealth and the legacies of European colonizers inhibit development. However, the case of Trinidad and Tobago challenges these theories, as a resource-rich former colony that has achieved high levels of development. What accounts for Trinidad and Tobago's development trajectory? Using the Black Marxist radical tradition, this study emphasizes what existing development theories miss, namely, the role of organized labor in enabling Trinidad and Tobago to escape the development trap through a different form of unionism that has not yet discussed in labor studies literature - "liberation unionism.” The findings suggest that development studies attend to how colonial labor legacies shape post-colonial development. -----
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via Zoom
This talk is the presidential address prepared for the one hundred seventeenth annual Eastern Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association and originally delivered January 16, 2021. Through an engagement with Africana philosophy, analytical Marxism, and black radicalism, I defend a distinctive approach to philosophical theory and the problem race, what I call “afro-analytical Marxism.” I contrast this approach with the one Cedric Robinson defends in his classic book Black Marxism.
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via Zoom
How do we remake, not simply rebuild, our lives after trauma? Rebuilding suggests a return to a prior state, where the same plans, assumptions, and visions remain in place. Remaking is much more dramatic; it is transformative and generates fundamentally new ways of navigating the world. We often think of significant life transformations as highly individualistic and personal experiences. But drawing upon findings highlighted in her book, Remaking A Life: How Women Living with HIV/AIDS Confront Inequality, Watkins-Hayes analyzes the sociological dimensions of transformative life change and the process of healing from personal and collective injuries of inequality.  -----
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via Zoom
The beginnings of the modern welfare state are often traced to the late nineteenth-century labor movement and to policymakers’ efforts to appeal to working-class voters. But regulatory welfare actually began a half century earlier with the passage of child labor laws. Middle-class reformers in Europe and the U.S. defined child labor as a threat to social order, built alliances to maneuver around powerful political blocks, and instituted new employment protections that initiated the partial decommodification of "free" labor.
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via Zoom
Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy (University of California Press, 2021) uncovers the surprising influence of post-revolutionary Mexico on the twentieth century’s most important international economic institutions. Drawing on extensive archival research in Mexico, the United States, and Great Britain, Revolution in Development meticulously traces how Mexican officials repeatedly rallied Third World leaders to campaign for representation in global organizations and redistribution through multilateral institutions, from the 1920s through the 1970s. By decentering the United States and Europe in the history of global economic governance, Revolution in Development shows how Mexican economists, diplomats, and politicians fought for more than five decades to reform the rules and institutions of the global capitalist economy.
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via Zoom
More than a decade after the 2008 financial crisis plunged the world economy into recession, we still lack an adequate explanation for why it happened. Existing accounts identify a number of culprits—financial instruments, traders, regulators, capital flows—yet fail to grasp how the various puzzle pieces came together. The key is understanding what the banks were doing. There was a convergence of major U.S. banks on an identical business model: the vertical integration of originating and securitizing mortgages in order to maximize the extraction of profit from the securitization of mortgages. In my talk I discuss how all of the major U.S. banks and many European banks became dependent on mortgage securitization. Each firm originated mortgages, issued mortgage-backed securities, sold those securities, and, in many cases, acted as their own best customers by purchasing the same securities.
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via Zoom
This paper presents the basic argument of a book I am completing on how the Federal Constitution became a site of near unanimous public support in American life.  I argue that the dominance and substantive meaning of constitutional veneration is actually a relatively recent development—the product of a series of interconnected political struggles between the American emergence onto the global stage with the Spanish-American War and World War I and the fallout of student and civil rights protest in the 1970s.  In the process, the book raises a series of questions that have thus far been largely overlooked but that should be central to our conversations about the Constitution.  How did our current consensus emerge?  To what degree did such acceptance depend on the active suppression of alternatives?  And what are the implications of this consensus and its history for contemporary political discourse and institutional possibilities?  In engaging with these questions, I highlight how the Constitution became wedded to a very specific acc
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via Zoom
Previous research in middle-class districts has focused on within-school segregation but not between-school segregation.  In this study, I unveil hidden institutional mechanisms of between-school segregation and inequality in an affluent, suburban school district.  Drawing on over two years of ethnographic observations and 122 in-depth interviews with students, teachers, administrators, and parents at two dissimilar high schools, I identify distinct policies and practices of segregation that disproportionately place Black, Latinx, and lower-income students at risk.  I also examine how institutional definitions of success and failure affect school policies and practices in ways that contribute to segregation and inequality, and how institutional actors leverage these definitions to legitimize and justify segregation in the district.  This research is part of my forthcoming book Academic Apartheid: Race, School Culture, and the Symbolic Criminalization of Failure (University of California Press, expected Spring 2022), which sits at the sociological intersection of education, race and ethni