Spring 2017 SSF Events

Myanmar: Perspective on a Society in Transition

View lecture online

Christina Fink, George Washington University

Myanmar has been undergoing profound political, economic, and social change. Throughout this process, the military leadership and political parties have both cooperated and competed in their efforts to impose their vision for the future. Meanwhile, citizens have sought to take advantage of greater freedoms and opportunities, while also re-imagining their country’s identity and place in the world.

Sponsored by the Asian Studies Program; Dresher Center for the Humanities; Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery

Who’s Watching? Political Monitoring, Collective Action Problems and Good Governance

Thomas Lancaster, Emory University

As part of an ongoing research project (Lancaster, 2014, 2015), this talk emphasizes the concept of political monitoring in the study of governing institutions.  Building on the psychological notion that people change their behavior if someone is watching them or they think someone is, the argument will be advanced that the choice of how political monitoring is institutionalized, as a necessary element in the process of overcoming collective action problems in the provision of public goods, reflects choices in state-building, institutional engineering, and public policy.  A wide range of examples will illustrate how constitutionally-based structures, operational rules, and policy design might incorporate political monitoring in order to produce specific outcomes normatively held as desirable.

Sponsored by the Department of Political Science; Global Studies Program; Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars

Sex, Drugs, and Mobile Phones: Using Technology to Understand Risk Behavior

Trace Kershaw, Yale University

This talk explores understanding and preventing risk behavior by understanding how networks of friends interact and influence each other using cell phone data (e.g., text messages, social network posts, GPS coordinates). The talk presents results from the CREW (Cell Phone Research to Enhance Wellbeing) study of a 120 young urban men who allowed full real time access to their cell phone data. The study subjects fell into 12 networks of friends, allowing the researchers to better understand how these peer groups influenced each other.

Sponsored by the Department of Psychology

Bringing the São José Back into Memory

Paul Gardullo, National Museum of African American History

From No Return –Dr. Gardullo’s talk will focus on the complex ongoing vectors of collaborative international research, archaeology, and memory work in investigating the voyage of the São José. This Portuguese slave ship provides a window into bringing the massive role of the transatlantic slave trade down to a human scale to help us understand the global connections and enduring legacies of this story from Mozambique, to South Africa, Brazil, Portugal, and the United States. In so doing, it provides a new model for how museums and research institutions can operate in the 21st century.

Low Lecture, sponsored by the Department of History

Globalization, Displacement, and Migration

Aviva Chomsky, Salem State University

This presentation will examine histories of Latin American immigration, migration, and deportation in the United States.  It locates the structural and institutional roots of today’s Mexican and Central American migration to the United States in a number of historical global processes. Thus, Chomsky explains how the cross-border movement of people emerged in the context of late twentieth century globalization as well as through a much longer global history of colonialism, displacement and removal of Indigenous peoples in both North and South America. The role of social, economic and political forces driving these processes, such as nation-state building, economic development, and labor struggles, will be addressed.

Sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Health Administration and Policy; Global Studies Program; Department of History; Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics & Intercultural Communication; Department of Political Science

Implicit Social Cognition

Mahzarin Banaji, Harvard University

How deep are the bounds on human thinking and feeling and how do they shape social interactions and decisions?  For the past 25 years, Dr. Banaji has studied mental processes that appear to operate without conscious awareness or conscious control.  In social contexts, the decisions that stem from such processes (i.e., automatically elicited social preferences and beliefs) can be at odds with consciously expressed preferences and beliefs and even one’s intentions and moral values.  From this basic dissociation between implicit and explicit social cognition we have explored the nature of implicit social cognition: its universality and cultural variations, its developmental origins, stability and malleability, and prediction of behavior in a variety of contexts.

Sponsored by the Department of Psychology

The Persistence of Racial Inequality: An Intergenerational Perspective

View lecture online

Robert Margo, Boston University

New benchmark estimates of Black-White income ratios for 1870, 1900, and 1940 are combined with standard post-World War census data. The resulting time series reveals that the pace of racial income convergence has generally been steady but slow, quickening only during the 1940s and the modern Civil Rights era. Dr. Margo explores the interpretation of the time series with a model of intergenerational transmission of inequality in which racial differences in causal factors that determine income are very large just after the Civil War and which erode slowly across subsequent generations.

Mullen Lecture, sponsored by the Department of Economics

Confederate Hunger: Food and Famine in the Civil War South

Anne Rubin, Department of History, UMBC

Historians know that over the course of the American Civil War, the Confederacy essentially starved to death, a result of the Union blockade, the breakdown of slavery on the homefront, and not enough food being grown.  What we don’t know, however, is what that felt like for ordinary people, on the most intimate and individual scale.  Confederate Hunger explores the ways that the war affected what people ate, and how food choices became symbols of nationalism, resistance, and survival.

Lipitz Lecture, sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities; Department of History; College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Desire and Addiction

Peter Railton, University of Michigan/Ann Arbor

Desire is a fundamental part of our lives, but it remains poorly understood in both philosophy and psychology.  Sometimes it is said that desire competes with reason for the control of our actions, and that addiction is something like the limiting case of this phenomenon–a drug-induced desire so strong that it is irresistible.  Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that this is an inaccurate picture of addiction–it does involve a disorder of desire, but it is a disorder of a different kind, a regulative failure internal to desire.  Understanding the nature of this failure gives us insight into why desire is not a competitor to reason, but an essential part of its effective operation.

Sponsored by the Social Sciences Forum