Current Colloquia

Colloquium Seminar on Sociological Issues - Spring 2019


Spring 2019 Colloquia

All Colloquia are held 3:30-5:00 pm with Reception to follow unless otherwise noted*. Locations listed below. 

Schedule subject to change.

View more info on our Events page.

January 17, 2019
Claudio Benzecry 
Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Northwestern University
Location: Robertson Hall 227, *reception to follow in Randall Hall 212

Claudio Benzecry is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies specializing in the sociology of culture. He is author of The Opera Fanatic: Ethnography of an Obsession (University of Chicago Press, 2011) which earned several American Sociological Association awards and was declared one of ten major books in sociological theory by Contemporary Sociology. Benzecry’s book From Head to Toe: Everyday Globalization in a Creative Industry (University of Chicago Press) is currently under contract.

Title: "The World at her Fit. Scale-making, uniqueness and standardization"


When studying globalization, the theory-method nexus has usually favored macro-level approaches. Even those that focus on the micro have emphasized it as an explanandum of the macro. Some scholars have worked to generate large-scale accounts of commodity production or network formation; others, the ethnographic yet “localized” study of how global forces act in one particular locale. A few recent studies have focused on the “production of” culture, knowledge, and subjects—or their contestation—by looking at the role of state and market actors in changing colonial and post-colonial contexts. Less attention has been given in sociology to “friction” (Tsing 2005), the contingency lurking within every link of the large-scale chains, the fact that each step along a commodity chain is an arena of its own, with actors in micro competing and collaborating in real time. So my question for this lecture is simple: what happens when we look at “the global” as something that needs to be maintained by actors worried in the quotidian about its potential breakdown? 


January 31, 2019
Stephan Fuchs
Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia
Location: Robertson Hall 227, *reception to follow in Randall Hall 212

Stephan Fuchs received his M.A. in History in 1985 from Bremen University, and then received a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Riverside in 1989. From 1989 until 1991, he was Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, and then moved to the University of Virginia, where he is now Professor of Sociology. His main interests are in social theory, sociology of culture and science, and complex organizations.

Title: "Hegel's Relational Ontology"

Current interest in merging systems and network theories of society stand to benefit from an account of Hegel's relational ontology, which thinks the worlding of the modern world as a relation between Subject and Object (Luhmann: System and Environment). "Hegel"  is the end of the beginning (of Western metaphysics), and the beginning of the end (of modernity). Thinking dialectically means to think the unity of this difference.


March 21, 2019
Kenneth Andrews
Mason Distinguished Professor and Department Chair, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Location: Robertson Hall 227, *reception to follow in Randall Hall 212

Kenneth Andrews is the Mason Distinguished Professor and Department Chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.   His areas of interest are Social Movements, Political Sociology, Organizations, Race and Ethnicity and Environment

Title:  "Protest, Organizing, and the 2018 Midterm Elections"


March 28, 2019
MA/QP Colloquium
Location: Robertson Hall 227, *reception to follow in Randall Hall 212


Yapeng Wang
Title:  "Positively Maintained Inequality: Do Women from All Family Backgrounds Reach Parity or Surpass Men in College Attendance Over Time in China?"
Advisor:  Josipa Roksa

Elene Kekelia
Title: "Nationalism in exile: The memory of the Georgian émigré community (1921-2018)"
Adviser: Jeffrey K. Olick

Abigail Moore
Title: "Communion and Community: How Liberal Churches Maintain Communal Identity without Exclusionary Boundaries"
Advisor: Isaac Reed

Heidi Nicholls
Title: "The Cultural Politics of Sovereignty: Semiotic currents and the Polynesian Voyaging Society"
Advisor: Isaac Reed

Shayne Zaslow
Title:  "Mainstream Novelty: Examining the shifting visibility of drag performance"
Advisor:  Andrea Press

Alida Goffinski
Title: "Reception Study of Girodet's "Citoyen Belley": Ontological Metalepsis and the Paradox of Blackness, 1798-2016"
Advisor: Isaac Reed

April 25, 2019
Claire Decoteau 
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
Location: Robertson Hall 227, *reception to follow in Randall Hall 212

Title:  The “Western Disease”: Epistemic Contestations over Autism in the Somali Diaspora

Claire Laurier Decoteau received her PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan (2008).  Broadly, her research focuses on the social construction of health and disease, the politics of knowledge production, and peoples’ grounded experiences with healing and health care systems.  Decoteau was awarded the 2009 American Sociological Association’s Dissertation Award.  Her book, Ancestors and Antiretrovirals: The Biopolitics of HIV/AIDS in Post-Apartheid South Africa (2013, University of Chicago Press) argues that it is through HIV/AIDS policy that the South African government has attempted to balance the contradictory demands of postcolonial nation-building – forced to satisfy the requirements of neoliberal global capital and meet the needs of its most impoverished population.  Drawing on 30 months of ethnographic, discursive and historical research, the book traces the politics of AIDS in South Africa from 1994 through 2010 analyzing: the political economy of the post-apartheid health system, the shifting symbolic struggles over the signification of HIV/AIDS, and the ways in which communities profoundly affected by the epidemic incorporate culturally hybrid subjectivities, informed by both indigenous and biomedical healing paradigms.  This book was awarded three honorable mentions for outstanding book awards from American Sociological Association sections: Medical Sociology; Science, Knowledge and Technology; and the Theory Section.

Decoteau is currently writing her second book, which focuses on the high rates of autism spectrum disorder in Somali diaspora communities in Minneapolis and Toronto.  This three-year qualitative project was funded by the National Science Foundation.  The book focuses on the epistemic communities Somali refugees have forged to make sense of their children’s vulnerability to autism, which reflect the marginalization and inequality they have faced as new immigrants and visible minorities.  It compares Somalis’ explanations to illness narratives of other main constituency groups within the autism world, explores the complicated politics of autism (and vaccine resistance), compares and contrasts service provision and health inequality in Toronto and Minneapolis, and analyzes the shifting dynamics within the field of autism science. This is the first study of autism to explore the racial, class and national implications of autism etiology and politics.

Decoteau has also engaged in projects focusing on: the US federal vaccine court proceedings on autism where the controversial link between childhood vaccinations and autism development was examined; sex work and transactional sex in South Africa, where gift and commodity exchange become symbolic distinctions in an increasingly neoliberal economy; the epistemic debates that were instigated by the release of the DSM-5; and a series of theoretical and methodological pieces on Bourdieusian action theory and critical realism.

As an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Decoteau teaches undergraduate and graduate sociological theory as well as courses in the sociology of health and medicine.