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In LA Rising: Korean Relations with Blacks and Latinos after Civil Unrest, UCLA Anthropology Professor Kyeyoung Park revisits the 1992 Los Angeles unrest and provides a deep dive of the interrelations between minority groups. She provides a comprehensive examination of how race, class citizenship, and culture impacted relations between multiple groups in South Los Angeles. This is an important read as many of the past issues examined are still relevant today.

Interview Chapters:

0:04 – Intro

0:53 – What is the main argument/contribution of the book?

5:09 – How did racial cartography allow you to examine relations between Korean, Black, and Latino populations?

10:09 – How does your book add to and/or challenge the narratives around the 1992 civil unrest?

13:00 – How does the book connect with current unrest related to police brutality?

15:34 – Why should someone read/assign this book?

To learn more, check out Professor Park’s book LA Rising: Korean Relations with Blacks and Latinos After Civil Unrest.

 

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UCLA Professor Shannon Speed‘s new book, Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler-Capitalist State, examines the myriad forms of violence that Indigenous women from the Americas face. Dr. Speed, UCLA American Indian Studies Center Director and Gender Studies and Anthropology Professor, characterizes the structural violence these women endure as “neoliberal multicriminalism” where economic and political policies render them vulnerable. Her book uses a critically engaged, activist-research approach, specifically ethnographic practices, to record and recount stories from Indigenous women in U.S. detention. Dr. Speed demonstrates that these women’s vulnerability to individual and state violence is not rooted in a failure to exercise agency. Rather, it is a structural condition, created and reinforced by settler colonialism, which consistently deploys racial and gender ideologies to manage the ongoing business of occupation and capitalist exploitation.

Interview Chapters:

0:04 – Introduction

0:51 – What are the myriad forms of violence that Indigenous women from the Americas face?

4:05 – What do the women’s stories reveal?

5:22 – Can you elaborate on your term “neoliberal multicriminalism”?

11:15 – What nuance can you get out of a critically engaged, activist-research approach?

12:55 – How does the book help us understand contemporary times? And how does it challenge and combat “multicriminalism”?

To learn more, check out Professor Speed’s book, Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler-Capitalist State.

 

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In the latest interview in the book series, Dr. Norma Mendoza-Denton, UCLA Anthropology Professor, discusses her highly anticipated, co-edited book Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies that examines the power of language and how President Trump has used it to further his agenda.

Interview Chapters:

0:00 – Intro

1:15 – What made you decide to do a book on language in the Trump era?

2:14 – What is the power of language?

5:44 – How has Trump’s language regarding women, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQ+ impacted society?

10:04 – What is the impact of social media and 24-hour news cycle on spreading narratives?

12:40 – What do these narratives say about Trump and those who agree with him?

19:06 – Why is this an essential book to pick up right now?

To learn more, check out Dr. Mendoza-Denton’s book Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies.

 

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Dr. H. Samy Alim, UCLA Professor of Anthropology and David O. Sears Presidential Endowed Chair in the Division of Social Sciences, and Dr. Geneva Smitherman, Michigan State University Distinguished Professor Emerita, recently released an opinion piece in The New York Times titled “Of Course Kamala Harris Is Articulate.” They challenge the often used description that high-achieving Black people are “articulate.” They assert that these types of descriptions are highly problematic and offensive, because the exceptional descriptions imply that the opposite is true of other Black people. As co-authors of the book Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S., Drs. Alim and Smitherman further explain why comments like these denigrate Black Americans, even if done unintentionally.

To read the full op-ed, please click HERE.

UCLA Professor Stephen Acabado recently co-authored an essay for INQUIRER.net that discusses how monuments in the Philippines “glorify both our fight for self-determination and the contributions of our colonial overlords.” The authors credit the #BlackLivesMatter movement for this renewed investigation into monuments and the histories they represent, as they urge the reader to see monuments as elevations of history.

A pre-war photo of the Plaza Quince Martires in Naga City. The monument honors the 15 martyrs of Bicol who were executed by the Spanish in 1897 for rebellion. (Photo: Savage Mind: Arts, Books, Cinema)

To read this essay, click HERE.

Summer 2020 starts this month, and LA Social Science will continue to highlight some of the summer courses being offered within the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA.

UCLA summer courses are open to BOTH UCLA students and NON-UCLA students. All Summer 2020 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more information, click HERE.

UCLA’s Department of Anthropology has several summer course offerings. Check out the course list below. Enroll HERE TODAY!

Session A:

ANTHRO 142P – Anthropology of Religion

Survey of various methodologies in comparative study of religious ideologies and action systems, including understanding particular religions through descriptive and structural approaches, and identification of social and psychological factors that may account for variation in religious systems cross-culturally.

ANTHRO 143 – Economic Anthropology

Introduction to anthropological perspectives for interpretation of economic life and institutions. Economic facts to be placed in their larger social, political, and cultural contexts; examination of modes of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services in their relation to social networks, power structures, and institutions of family, kinship, and class.

ANTHRO 153 – Language and Identity

Language as social phenomenon. Introduction to several angles from which language use can be critically examined as integral to interactions between individuals and between social groups.

Other Session A offerings:

ANTHRO 3 – Culture and Society

ANTHRO 110 – Principles of Archaeology

ANTHRO 124S – Evolution of Human Sexual Behavior

ANTHRO 133 – Anthropology of Food

ANTHRO 137P – Anthropology of Deviance and Abnormality

Session C:

ANTHRO 126P – Paleopathology

Evidence of disease and trauma, as preserved in skeletal remains of ancient and modern human populations. Discussions of medical procedures (trepanation), health status, ethnic mutilation (cranial deformation, footbinding), cannibalism, and sacrifice and roles such activities have played in human societies.

ANTHRO 132 – Anthropology of Environment

Environmental anthropology explores relationship between complex human systems and environments in which they are entangled. Examination of how people impact and are impacted by their environments, and how relationships between people are negotiated through management of place and space throughout time. Traces multiple theoretical lineages, beginning with early work in cultural ecology and including political ecology, environmental history, contested ontologies, and contemporary environmental justice. Through engagement with grounded, multimodal ethnographies (in text, film, and new media), study of historical movements of people across ecosystems, politics of managing common goods resources such as rivers and atmosphere, bioeconomics of environmental contamination, and development of climate change adaptation strategies in hard-hit areas.

ANTHRO 138P – Field Methods in Cultural Anthropology

Introduction to skills and tools of data ascertainment through fieldwork in cultural anthropology. Emphasis on techniques, methods, and concepts of ethnographical research and how basic observational information is systematized for presentation, analysis, and cross-cultural comparison.

Other Session C offerings:

ANTHRO 1 – Human Evolution

ANTHRO 4 – Culture and Communication

ANTHRO 135 – Visual Anthropology

ANTHRO 146 – Urban Anthropology

Have you always wanted to take a course in the social sciences?

Did you think you would never have the time as a working professional?

Are you an upper-level high school student interested in taking a college course?

Are you a current UC student who needs to fulfill a requirement for your major?

Then, take an official UCLA course online from anywhere in the world.

And, learn from renowned faculty who are experts in their field.

UCLA summer courses are open to BOTH UCLA students and non-UCLA students. All summer 2020 courses will be offered online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can enroll as long as you are 15 years of age or older by the first day of summer, and you do NOT have to be enrolled in an academic institution in order to participate in UCLA Summer Sessions. For more general information, click HERE.

But, DON’T DELAY! Register TODAY HERE!

Payment is due by June 5 at 5pm PDT for visiting non-UC students who enrolled before June 5 and by June 19 at 5pm PDT for UC students AND for visiting non-UC students who enrolled between June 6 to June 19. Check HERE to keep up to date on the deadlines.

Check out the amazing courses being offered by the departments within the Division of Social Sciences. Each department’s course list is found in the following links:

African American Studies (additional video course previews)

Anthropology

Asian American Studies

Chicana & Chicano Studies

Communication

Economics

Gender Studies (additional information)

Geography

History

Political Science

Sociology

Dr. Akhil Gupta, UCLA Professor of Anthropology, has officially become president of the American Anthropological Association (as of November 2019). The American Anthropological Association is the largest association for professional anthropologists in the world. Dr. Gupta is a sociocultural anthropologist who works on questions of transnational capitalism, infrastructure, and corruption.

LA Social Science would like to congratulate Dr. Akhil Gupta on this well-deserved appointment.

By Lara Drasin

What makes someone want to “do good?” Dr. Daniel Fessler of UCLA’s Anthropology department—the inaugural director of the UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute and 2018 recipient of the UCLA Gold Shield Faculty prize—is trying to figure that out, and sat down with LA Social Science to share some thoughts on the subject from an evolutionary perspective.

Fessler and his colleagues are currently conducting research on altruism, or “pro-social behavior.” He says that altruism, or moments in which a person goes out of their way to help another, can actually be “contagious:” witnessing the kindness of others can trigger an emotional reaction in us and inspire us to commit altruistic acts ourselves. The team of researchers are interested investigating what specifically triggers those reaction—or the “machinery inside the mind,” as he puts it, that causes us to make decisions as to whether to be helpful or not. This includes the role that our expectations play in the process. Fessler says that idealists are most likely to be affected, while cynics—or people who are prone to not expect the best from others—are less likely to have this reaction.

What makes someone idealistic or cynical? In addition to studying altruism, Fessler also looks at media and its effects, including how the messages we consume through media may impact the expectations we have of others. “When you choose to repeatedly consume information about the darker aspects of human behavior,” he said, “you’re shaping your own expectations about how other people will behave. It makes you less likely to respond pro-socially when there’s an opportunity to behave in a cooperative situation with others.”

Fessler says that there’s reason to believe our minds process information presented to us through media as though it’s firsthand experience. For example, people who watch a lot of local news overestimate the likelihood that they’ll become victims of violence.

“I love action movies as much as the next person, but I don’t watch them anymore,” he said. “I intentionally avoid realistic depictions of violence because I think it increases our estimation that other people are hostile and violent toward us, and that’s not an orientation I want to have.”

Fessler admits that it is “early days” when it comes to making definitive claims on the psychological effects of media consumption, but he draws a parallel to tobacco. He notes that though it’s legal to buy tobacco products, one can’t pick up a pack of cigarettes without seeing messages reminding us that it is harmful. “I could see a day when we want the same kind of public information campaigns that we have for tobacco use for media consumption,” he said, suggesting that whether or not to consume certain types of media could then become a matter of personal choice, but informed personal choice. “The best thing we can do as scientists is study these things and inform people,” he said, “so that everyone involved can recognize the consequences of their decisions more fully.”

When it comes to his students, Fessler likes to focus on subjects that the students can connect to in their own lives. Everyday subjects including questions like why women tend to be evaluated based on looks; why physical altercations tend to spur from trivial disagreements; and the relationship between economic inequality and violence are all discussed. “It’s important that I teach students in the way that they understand the personal impact of the information,” he said. Usually, conversations take place in a learning environment that Fessler fosters to invoke the same small-scale, face-to-face interactions in which people normally learn outside the context of formal education. He hosts the “FessLab,” where students are invited to assist Dr. Fessler with research outside of class. “The students named it FessLab,” he said, laughing. “It seems kind of self-aggrandizing to me.”

Fessler says that what he loves about UCLA is that it is full of scholars and students who are excited, interested, collaborative and genuinely want to make the world a better place. “That’s not commonly found,” he said. “There is so much good work being done here.”

 

To learn more about the establishment of the new UCLA Bedari Kindness Institute, please click HERE.

Monica L. Smith is a UCLA professor in the Department of Anthropology. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, Smith is the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian Studies and the Director of South Asian Archaeology Laboratory in the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Her principal research interests have three main focuses: the human interaction with material culture, urbanism as a long-term human phenomenon, and the development of social complexity. Most recently, Smith has spent time on a research project in eastern India, but her scope of work covers various parts of the world including Madagascar, Turkey, Bangladesh, Italy, Tunisia, Egypt, and the United States to name a few. Smith has combined her years of rich research and experience to share the history of cities in her newly published book that was released this month titled, Cities: The First 6,000 Years. In a recent correspondence with Smith she describes in her own words a brief comment about her book. She explains:

“This book explores what makes cities a compelling part of human life, and how over the past six thousand years they have become the dominant form of human settlement. The growth of cities wasn’t an easy process and those who live in cities find them challenging and exciting in equal measure. There is crowding, pollution, high prices, and traffic, but at the same time there are amazing job opportunities, educational and medical facilities, and the possibilities of entertainment ranging from major sports teams to museums, art galleries, and theaters. Cities are also places of much greater diversity, whether that’s ethnic diversity, migrant neighborhoods, or LGBTQ communities. Cities are places of great economic growth and they’re linked together into a global network of connected places.”

Dr. Smith offered additional insights and words of wisdom in a short series of questions about her book.

What inspired you to write your book, Cities: The First 6,000 Years?

I really enjoy teaching my classes “Cities Past and Present” and “Religion and Urbanism” within the Anthropology Department here at UCLA. And I am also an archaeologist who works on ancient urban centers in the Indian subcontinent. Those experiences, as well as my interest in contemporary cities (including our great city of LA!) provided the inspiration for the book. There are a lot of things about cities that we find challenging, but cities are growing larger and larger. My interest was in exploring the long continuity of city life from the very beginnings of urbanism starting six thousand years ago right through to the present and future.

How long did the process take to complete your book?

The Cities book was a sequel to a previous book that I wrote, A Prehistory of Ordinary People, which was published in 2010. Like most academic projects, there’s a kernel of an idea that starts long before we sit down to write a new book. But this one took a couple of years, which in terms of increments is not that much work – about a page a day, really, although some of those pages were rewritten many times to try and get it just right.

What were some of the challenges of writing and publishing?

I was very fortunate in having good prior experiences in public engagement such as through the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology’s annual Backdirt publication. And my colleague Jared Diamond (UCLA Geography) was very helpful in providing encouragement and suggestions. The publication staff and editors at Viking Press were amazing in their dedication to the book and in support of me as an author.

What was most enjoyable about writing this book?

As I wrote in the book’s acknowledgements, this book was really a pleasure to work on and something that I truly enjoyed doing. I’ve always been interested in examining archaeology beyond the perspective of palaces, kings, and queens, so it was an opportunity to think about how we can take evidence in the form of potsherds and ancient buildings to understand how ancient people felt about their cities and how those feelings are still part of our own urban lives.

What do you hope readers take from your book?

I enjoyed the idea of walking people through their own cities, so that they can be archaeologists too. There are the physical remains of our ancestors everywhere around us in every city; in Los Angeles, we have places like Olvera Street and Sawtelle Japantown and Bruce’s Beach. Once people start to look around at the palimpsests of the past in their own city, they can apply those skills to the places that they visit in their travels or the cities to which they relocate for work and family. Cities are remarkably similar in time and space, whether they are archaeological sites or living cities. And some places, like Rome and Mexico City, are ancient and modern all at the same time.

Any advice for others (students/professors) who want to write their own book?

Writing a book isn’t much different from writing a paper (a very long paper!).

How were you able to balance so many responsibilities in your personal life with family and as a professor, chair, director, as well as author a book?

As faculty, we are constantly writing in a variety of different formats, including writing research articles, grant proposals, conference papers, and letters of recommendation in support of students. So, writing a book gets folded into those other activities, and writing is a little bit like breathing: something that we do all the time. But I’ll admit that one of the things that gets cut in the balance of activities is keeping up with things like movies and TV, so I rely on my friends to keep me up to date on that!

How do you feel now that your book is out? How has it been received?

The publisher has been great about spreading the word, and the reviews in advance of publication have been beautiful. One thing that I really appreciated was the reviewers who found the book “humorous” which is not something that faculty often hear – it’s a great compliment. I hope that people enjoy reading it, even if they have time for just a chapter or two.

Definitively, Smith’s book has resonated with many people and has been recognized by other authors, archaeologists, colleagues, and publishing companies. Below are just a couple of praises Smith has received regarding her book. Zahi Hawass, author of Hidden Treasures of Ancient Egypt stated, “Cities captures the reality and stress of how we make cities and how, sometimes, cities make us. This is a must-read book for any city dweller with a voracious appetite for understanding the wonders of cities and why we’re so attracted to them.” Similarly, Publishers Weekly commented on Smith’s book saying it was, “[An] enjoyable, humorous combination of archeological findings, historical documents, and present-day experiences.” These are convincing reviews, so get the book and read it for yourself.

 

To read additional reviews and media coverage on Cities: The First 6,000 Years, check out these sites: Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Centre for Cities, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and The American Scholar.