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Black by choice?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | July 14, 2015

A couple of weeks back, we witnessed two quite different but intriguing cases of people laying claim to an African-American identity without having the lineage that we generally assume provides that identity – biological descent from African slaves in the United States. These two people were, in effect, asserting that they could choose to be … Continue reading »

Chez Chimp: Why our primate cousins don’t cook

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | June 16, 2015

Once upon a time, the list of behaviors that absolutely distinguished humans and non-human primates was clear and well defined. Tool use, language, organized group violence, some more debatable than others, but research on each of these has established that it no longer clearly defines a human leap forward. Can we can add another activity to … Continue reading »

Attaining adulthood

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 10, 2015

One of the deep, long-term changes in American lives has been what social historians call the “standardization” of the life course. From the 19th into the 20th century, increasingly more young Americans were able to follow a common sequence: get educated, get a job, leave parents’ home, get married, have children, and become financially secure … Continue reading »

Othering, Belonging, and Impermanence

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | April 26, 2015

I’m writing to you from the Othering & Belonging conference in Oakland, California, sponsored by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. I wanted to attend because of the title: it’s rare that a conference will try to dialectically encompass both a problem and a solution in its own name. The name suggests both dystopian … Continue reading »

“Liquid mercury found under Mexican pyramid”…

Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology | April 25, 2015

That’s the beginning of the headline on an article in Britain’s The Guardian published on April 24. Alan Yuhas, the reporter from The Guardian, has done a super job in this report of balancing comments from specialists with an attempt to convey what is exciting here. Since I ended up quoted rather a lot (considering that … Continue reading »

Abe Lincoln

Michael O'Hare, professor of public policy | April 17, 2015

Wednesday was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death. It’s hard to spend too much time reflecting on Lincoln; I use the first thing he ever published, comparing two infrastructure projects in a local election campaign, as an example of policy analysis avant la lettre, and he just gets better and better from there. Even … Continue reading »

What Rolling Stone magazine should learn from social science

Bruce Newsome, Lecturer in International Relations | April 11, 2015

The most recent scandal about avoidably erroneous reporting is symptomatic of a trend towards agenda-driven research and away from evidence-based research. On 19 November 2014, the magazine Rolling Stone published a 9,000-word article alleging that on 29 September 2012 seven men sexually assaulted a fellow undergraduate student (pseudonym “Jackie”) at a fraternity on the University … Continue reading »

Sunni Islamic authority between the text and context

Hatem Bazian, senior lecturer, Near Eastern studies and Ethnic studies | April 8, 2015

The ongoing chaos in many parts of the Muslim world can, in part, be traced to the collapse of Sunni Islamic authority and the emergence of various groupings claiming to fill the vacuum. While all agree that the collapse is a reality, dating the collapse is as difficult as the attempts to fill it. Some … Continue reading »

The government we deserve/The unexpected virtue of ignorance

Lorena Ojeda, visiting scholar, history | April 1, 2015

At the most recent Oscars, the Academy recognized the talents of numerous Mexicans who worked on the acclaimed film Birdman. During his acceptance speech for the Best Director award, Alejandro González Iñárritu made two statements meant to resonate with Mexicans living on both sides of the Mexico-United States border. In regard to those Mexicans living … Continue reading »

How does it feel to be a Muslim?

Hatem Bazian, senior lecturer, Near Eastern studies and Ethnic studies | March 27, 2015

Events in the Arab and Muslim world direct me again back to W.E.B. Du Bois and the pressing question in his book, The Souls of Black Folk— how does it feel to be a problem? The question posed by Du Bois in relations to African Americans and the problem of race in America has not … Continue reading »

ISIS Beheading Islam Through its Actions!

Hatem Bazian, senior lecturer, Near Eastern studies and Ethnic studies | March 16, 2015

Recent videos showing ISIS members destroying Mosul’s museum and with it the loss of Iraq’s cultural and historical heritage are woefully sickening. The actions are undertaken supposedly on the basis of Islamic interpretation and an attempt on the one hand to destroy idols and on the other adhering to strict prohibition on art and figurines … Continue reading »

Zaytuna College: An accredited academic address for Muslims in America

Hatem Bazian, senior lecturer, Near Eastern studies and Ethnic studies | March 9, 2015

March 4, 2015 stands as a historical date for American Muslims as the WASC Senior College and University Commission granted initial accreditation to Zaytuna College, thus becoming the first Muslim liberal arts college to be accredited in the United States. The Commission’s letter commended the “institution’s achievements” and praised Zaytuna leadership for “implementing a variety of … Continue reading »

Islamophobia: An Electoral Wedge Issue!

Hatem Bazian, senior lecturer, Near Eastern studies and Ethnic studies | February 25, 2015

In 2011, the Center for American Progress published a groundbreaking report, “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” which managed to expose for the first time the funding sources behind the bigotry producing Islamophobic industry, the individuals responsible and the effective strategies that made possible to impact the mainstream.  CAP’s report managed … Continue reading »

Why aren’t blacks migrating like they used to?

Sandra Susan Smith, associate professor of sociology | February 24, 2015

In a recent publication in the journal Demography, Patrick Sharkey analyzed patterns of geographic migration of black and white families over four consecutive generations. In prior generations, the NYU sociologist observed patterns of migration consistent with conventional wisdom, with massive outflows of blacks from the South toward cities in the Northeast, Midwest, and eventually the … Continue reading »

My Passage to India

Nicholas Dirks, professor of history and anthropology | February 2, 2015

I set off on my first passage to India when I was 12 years old. My father had a Fulbright grant to teach at Madras Christian College, in Tambaram, southern India, and he decided to take our entire family with him for the year. I remember being told about my family’s plans some time in … Continue reading »

Are we Charlie?

Albena Azmanova, visiting scholar, Institute for European Studies | January 16, 2015

Upon arrival last week at Berkeley (I am a visiting scholar on a sabbatical leave) I was baffled by the silent campus. While the world was awash with “I am Charlie” protests in defense of free speech and condemnation of violence, the university that gained its fame as the cradle of the Free Speech movement … Continue reading »

U.C. Berkeley and the “Arts Race”

Anthony Cascardi, dean, Arts & Humanities | November 17, 2014

The New York Times recently (Nov. 16, 2014) proclaimed what many of us have long known to be true: there is an “arts race” among the nation’s elite universities. In recent years, some of the finest universities have invested large sums of money in arts facilities, in some cases remodeling existing buildings but also building … Continue reading »

Not everyone mourns for Ayotzinapa’s students

Lorena Ojeda, visiting scholar, history | November 4, 2014

Forty-three student teachers (normalistas) disappeared on the evening of September 26 in the municipality of Iguala, in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. The incident has attracted national and international attention, and it has also generated a wealth of speculation and misinformation. The daily reports concerning the discovery of numerous mass graves have further muddied … Continue reading »

Vocabulary retrogression

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | October 15, 2014

As is now well-known, scores on “intelligence” tests rose strongly over the last few generations, world-wide – this is the “Flynn Effect.” One striking anomaly, however, appears in American data: slumping students’ scores on academic achievement tests like the SAT. Notes of the decline starting in the 1960s sparked a lot of concern and hand-wringing. … Continue reading »