Category Archives: Publications
Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by our PhD alumna Sabrina Strings was just released!
It explores how fat phobia in the West finds its roots not in health concerns, but in the triangle slave trade and Protestantism.
How the female body has been racialized for over two hundred years.
There is an obesity epidemic in this country and poor black women are particularly stigmatized as “diseased” and a burden on the public health care system. This is only the most recent incarnation of the fear of fat black women, which Sabrina Strings shows took root more than two hundred years ago.
Strings weaves together an eye-opening historical narrative ranging from the Renaissance to the current moment, analyzing important works of art, newspaper and magazine articles, and scientific literature and medical journals—where fat bodies were once praised—showing that fat phobia, as it relates to black women, did not originate with medical findings, but with the Enlightenment era belief that fatness was evidence of “savagery” and racial inferiority.
The author argues that the contemporary ideal of slenderness is, at its very core, racialized and racist. Indeed, it was not until the early twentieth century, when racialized attitudes against fatness were already entrenched in the culture, that the medical establishment began its crusade against obesity.
An important and original work, Fearing the Black Body argues convincingly that fat phobia isn’t about health at all, but rather a means of using the body to validate race, class, and gender prejudice.
The book has been featured on three “must read” lists:
An Inside Higher Ed article, “Professors and Politics: What the Research Says“, cites sociologist Amy Binder’s 2012 book “Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives” in a response to the accusation by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that liberal professors forces their views on students.
Rawan Arar, a graduate student at the sociology department and recipient of one of this year’s FISP awards, had her work “International Solidarity and Ethnic Boundaries: Using the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict to Strengthen Ethno-National Claims in Northern Ireland” published in the journal Nations and Nationalism.
In the article she writes:
This study examines flags, graffiti, murals and political speech on display in Northern Ireland that advocate for either Israelis or Palestinians. Through the concept of ‘borrowed legitimacy’, I acknowledge the strategic use of the ethnic boundary in expressions of international solidarity.
“This is primarily a work of social/cultural theory, drawing on Marx’s metaphor of capital as a vampire, and the idea of capitalism as the domination of living labor by dead labor, as well as on Erich Fromm’s Marxist-psychoanalytic philosophy, in order to analyze contemporary culture. It deals with topics like the zombie in television and film, apocalyptic science fiction, artificial life, climate change and ecological destruction, transhumanism, internet pornography, and the politics of the Tea Party and the gun lobby.”
The book can also be purchased on Amazon. Congratulations Professor Thorpe!
Congratulations to David Pinzur, PhD, whose article “Making the Grade: Infrastructural Semiotics and Derivative Market Outcomes on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange, 1856-1909” will be published in Economy and Society. The article will be published online and in hard copy by the end of 2016. This article is part of Pinzur’s dissertation project, “Building Futures Markets: Infrastructure and Outcome on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange.”
In this article, Pinzur uses two historical case studies to ask what forms derivative markets can take and how these forms impact price volatility. Comparing the creation of futures markets on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange after the Civil War, he finds that the two exchanges–reflecting material,economic, and cultural distinctions–differed in how they graded the agricultural goods underlying their markets. While wheat in Chicago was graded by a single party as it entered into storage and then mixed with other shipments, cotton in New Orleans maintained its form and was graded in an antagonistic negotiation at the point of exchange. Pinzur demonstrates that these differences in classifying practice gave commodity grades distinct qualities: in New Orleans, grades were reliable, but expensive, guides to the quality of cotton, while in Chicago they were unreliable and cheap. These differences affected the types of trades found on each exchange, with Chicago traders embracing volatile, speculative trades, while those in New Orleans favored stable, hedging trades. The article thus demonstrates how distinct classifying practices, shaped by their social environments, contribute to vastly different levels of volatility on two important early derivative markets.
“It has gotten to the point where everyone in Washington has their own expert,” Mr. Medvetz said. “It is yet another reflection of the tremendous influence of economic power in American politics — as with money, you can create your own vehicles of political influence.”
“A national instinct that small government is always better than large government is grounded not in facts but rather in ideology and politics,” they write. The evidence throughout the history of modern capitalism “shows that more government can lead to greater security, enhanced opportunity and a fairer sharing of national wealth.”
Congratulations to Stacy J. Williams, who has had yet another research piece accepted for publication. Her article, “Personal Prefigurative Politics: Cooking Up an Ideal Society in the Woman’s Temperance and Woman’s Suffrage Movements, 1870-1920” is forthcoming in The Sociological Quarterly.
Abstract: The literature on prefigurative politics currently suffers from an organizational bias. To reduce this bias, I demonstrate how the personal sphere can be prefigurative. An analysis of woman’s temperance and woman’s suffrage newspaper articles about cooking reveals that these activists advocated cooking in ways that would prefigure their visions of social change within individual families. Therefore, this article broadens the concept of prefigurative politics beyond organizations, expanding it to the home. I demonstrate that the home is a site of social movement action, where women in particular may campaign for social change.
Graduate student Daniel Davis and Professor Amy Binder’s research on “career services headhunting” covered in Inside Higher Ed.
Graduate student Dan Davis and Professor Amy Binder’s research on career services’ “headhunting” practices, originally published in the journal Research in the Sociology of Organizations, was picked up by the online magazine Inside Higher Ed .
In their article, Davis and Binder show that university career centers are embracing a new model of career services. Rather than focus most of their energy preparing students to lead their own career searches, they are increasingly leaning on corporate partnership programs to secure student job-placements and raise funds. The career centers offer a menu of services, with preferential access to the best students chief among them, to the corporations able and willing to pay fees. While this new strategy is good for some students landing jobs, some career centers raising funds, and some companies securing talent; it is also potentially problematic for students whose campuses lacking such partnerships, career centers facing underfunding, and some companies who cannot afford the fees involved.