By Andrew McCullough – The emergence of a religion is a process—one involving changes in beliefs, social attitudes, and political structure. On March 15, 2017, Associate Professor of History Baki Tezcan explored that process in the context of Kadizade Mehmed, an Islamic preacher active in the 17th-century Ottoman Empire. Tezcan suggested that Kadizade’s influence inspired a populist reformation that ultimately led to the emergence of Islam as we know it today.
By Griselda Jarquin – Is sorcery real? Or is it a metaphor for how people come to terms with political and socio-economic processes? How should historians interpret the supernatural? On February 27, 2017, at an event hosted by the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas, Robin Derby of UCLA addressed such questions. Her talk was entitled “Werewolves and Other Bêtes Noires: Sorcery as History in the Haitian-Dominican Borderlands.”
By Diana Johnson - On February 7, 2017, the Women and Gender in the World research cluster hosted a screening of a documentary film entitled No Más Bebés (No More Babies). Following the screening, producer Virginia Espino and film consultant Elena Gutierrez shared their insights and fielded questions.
By Andrew McCullough - In the Florida Keys, long-running debates about how to combat mosquito-borne diseases show no sign of abating. On February 21, 2017, Anne O’Connor, PhD student in cultural studies, described the complex web of scientific, environmental, social, and political issues surrounding the use of genetic engineering to control native mosquito populations.
By Griselda Jarquin – On February 17, 2017, the New Directions in Black Radical Thought symposium promoted a critical dialogue on black radicalism across the African diaspora.
By Ben Hinshaw – On January 27, 2017, as President Trump signed his executive order to halt immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, ISS hosted a conference entitled "Documenting the Immigrant: U.S. Immigration Policy Past, Present, and Future." Welcoming speakers and panelists from an array of disciplines and fields, the event represented a timely opportunity to tackle a critical and controversial issue.
By Andrew McCullough - French literature’s Decadent movement emerged in the late 19th century, depicting societal decline caused by human excess and overindulgence. Benjamin Morgan, professor of English at the University of Chicago, visited the Environments and Societies colloquium series on February 8, 2017 to discuss the ways in which the movement can inform our thinking about the current climate crisis.
By Griselda Jarquin – Why did the United States government vaccinate Native Americans while forcibly relocating them? How was the vaccination program used to justify U.S. expansion into the West? On February 1, 2017, at the first Environments & Societies colloquium of the quarter, Temple University’s Andrew Isenberg explained.
By Ben Hinshaw - Margaret Crofoot, assistant professor of anthropology, has been awarded the Leakey Foundation’s 2016 Gordon P. Getty Grant for her project entitled “Dominance, Social Stability, and the Emergence of Collective Decisions in Complex Societies.”
By Griselda Jarquin – During the Qing dynasty in China, cross-dressing was a crime punishable by death. Why? And how common was the practice? Matthew Sommer, professor of history at Stanford University, addressed such questions on January 25, 2017, in a talk entitled "Cross-Dressing and Gender Passing in 18th-Century China."
By Griselda Jarquin – Referred to as the “Araucanians” by conquistadores, the Mapuche in south-central Chile was one of the few indigenous groups in South America to avoid Spanish colonization. But the Mapuche people went on to be oppressed by the Chilean state, as Allison Ramay explained on January 12, 2017.
By Andrew McCullough - Involving the general public in the scientific process has many potential benefits, particularly when it comes to data collection and categorization. But "citizen science" also raises a number of ethical issues. Shun-Ling Chen explored those issues on January 24, 2017 in a lecture entitled "Beyond Efficiency: Ethics and Fairness Concerns in Citizen Science."
By Andrew McCullough - The fundamental human right to culture is often overlooked. Cultural rights are frequently targeted by parties aiming to weaken or divide a culture or group. And cultural sites are often some of the earliest casualties of war. On January 19, 2017 at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Karima Bennoune, professor of law at UC Davis, delivered a rallying cry for the preservation of cultural rights. Her lecture was entitled “Defending the Right to Culture.”
By Griselda Jarquin – For H1-B visa holders, consulting firms are often crucial to securing employment in the U.S. But do the jobs offered by such firms lead to long-term integration and assimilation? And is the playing field level for immigrants of all nationalities? Robin Savinar, PhD candidate in sociology at UC Davis, addressed such questions in a talk entitled “The Labor Market Pathways of H-1B Workers,” hosted on January 19, 2017 by the Migration Research Cluster.
The "Environments & Societies: History, Literature, and Justice" Research Initiative has announced its Winter Quarter 2017 colloquium series. Speakers from several different universities will address the human-nature interactions critical to meeting the environmental challenges of our era.
By Phyllis Jeffrey – Literature can bear witness to political trauma. But what happens when that trauma exceeds narrative possibilities? On November 30, 2016, in a talk entitled "Mourning, Memory, and Articulations of the Political in Turkish Coup d'état Novels," Sibel Irzık explored the 'coup novels' that have become a prominent sub-genre in Turkish literature since 1980.
The Institute for Social Sciences is pleased to announce its 2016-17 Junior Faculty Research Grants. This support for new and groundbreaking research ranges throughout the Division of Social Sciences.
By Kathleen Holder - Margaret Crofoot, a University of California, Davis, anthropologist studying group decision-making in primates, has been awarded a 2016 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
On November 17, 2016, ISS Senior Research Fellow Michael van Walt van Praag delivered a Noon Lecture entitled "Addressing History in Intrastate Peace Processes."
By Tanzeen R. Doha – Are self-control and self-esteem dependent on genetics, or on relative subjective experiences? Which of these two facets has a greater influence on individual success? PhD student Olivia Atherton tackled such questions at a Social-Personality Psychology brown bag talk on November 7, 2016.
By Phyllis Jeffrey – A visit to Jerusalem’s Ticho House—once an optometry clinic—led Anat Mooreville to explore how eye health came to be linked with "visions" of the modern nation in British-mandate Palestine. On November 10, 2016, Mooreville, a postdoctoral fellow in Jewish Studies, delivered a talk entitled "Blind in Palestine: An Ocular History."
On November 2, 2016—one week before Donald J. Trump emerged victorious in the U.S. presidential election—ISS hosted a Noon Lecture entitled "Election 2016: Polarization, Public Opinion and Policy Making." It was presented by Cheryl Boudreau and Christopher Hare, both of the Department of Political Science at UC Davis.
By Tanzeen R. Doha – China’s postsocialist era has seen many fascinating cultural and economic shifts. Lily Chumley, an assistant professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University, discussed two such shifts—in artistic training and personal wealth management—on October 31, 2016 at the invitation of the Department of Anthropology.
By Phyllis Jeffrey - What do we really know about human smugglers? Are our impressions based more on stereotypes than facts? On November 3, 2016, the Comparative Border Studies Mellon Research Initiative hosted a symposium entitled “On Containment and Coyotaje: Critical Approaches to Human Smuggling.” The speakers—Gabriella Sanchez of the University of Texas in El Paso and Luigi Achilli of the European University—both challenged dominant narratives surrounding the practice of human smuggling.
By Phyllis Jeffrey - What does an open hand signify? Does it depend on to whom the hand belongs? On October 27, 2016, in a talk entitled "Hands and the Humanitarian Gesture: Buddhist Non-Violence and Black Lives Matter," Emily Hue of UC Riverside explored images of open-palm, up-raised hands in both activism and socially conscious art.
By Tanzeen R. Doha - In the 1970s, the logic of the Cold War resulted in a particular kind of international relations between the U.S. and the Middle East. Those relations were explored on October 24, 2016 by Salim Yaqub, professor of history at UC Santa Barbara, at a colloquium hosted by the Department of History.
On October 20, 2016, ISS invited Dr. Michael Lerma to present a lecture on the challenges faced by the contemporary movement for Indigenous sovereignty in the United States.
By Phyllis Jeffrey - How might exploring the Vietnam War through the experience of ordinary Vietnamese individuals complicate existing historical accounts? How can engagement with new sources, histories, and perspectives afford new opportunities to probe Vietnam’s past—and engage with its present, too? Such questions were at the heart of an event entitled "Revisiting Viet Nam War History: Understanding the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam," hosted by the New Viet Nam Studies Cluster on October 19, 2016.
By Tanzeen R. Doha – What does Turkey’s Peace Mothers movement mean for traditional humanitarian notions of non-violence? Can it ease tension between the Turkish state and the pro-Kurdish PKK? At a colloquium hosted by the Department of Anthropology on October 17, 2016, Kabir Tambar of Stanford University suggested that the Mothers’ declarations of friendship provide a potential pathway to peace.
By Tanzeen R. Doha - Unlike the enslavement of Africans, Native American slavery was historically illegal across much of North America. Yet, as Andrés Reséndez explained on October 12, 2016, at a colloquium held in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, it was practiced for centuries—sometimes by Indians themselves.