Current Colloquia


SPRING 2021 Colloquia

All Colloquia are held 3:30-5:00 pm. 

Schedule subject to change.
View more info on our Events page.


Thursday, January 21, 2021 3:30 PM

Title: Privilege and Punishment in an Era of Mass Criminalization​
Professor Matthew Clair

Assistant Professor of Sociology
Stanford University

Abstract: The number of Americans arrested, brought to court, and incarcerated has skyrocketed in recent decades. Criminal defendants come from all races and economic walks of life, but they experience punishment in vastly different ways. How and why is the court process unequal? This talk draws on findings from my book Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court (Princeton University Press, November 2020). Drawing on fieldwork and interviews in the Boston court system, I show that lawyers and judges often silence, coerce, and punish disadvantaged defendants when they try to learn their legal rights and advocate for themselves. These dynamics reveal how unwritten institutional norms devalue the exercise of legal rights among the disadvantaged, and that ensuring effective legal representation is no guarantee of justice. I discuss implications for cultural sociology, relational theory, and theories of institutional discrimination. Drawing on other research and activism on the courts as a tool of racialized social control, I conclude with reflections on the possibilities of criminal court abolition.

Via Zoom (Email for the link.)


Monday, January 25, 2021 3:30 PM

UVA Acts 

Program: Inclusive Teaching Toolkit: First Days

Performance Host: Katya Makarova

Via Zoom (Email for the link.)


Friday, February 5, 2021 10:00 AM

CTE Workshop "Designing Inclusive Classroom Infrastructure” (follow-up to the August 2020 CTE event on difficult conversations)

Via Zoom (Email for the link.)


Thursday, February 18, 2021 3:30 PM

Co-Sponsored with the Marriage Project

Title: Rising Tides Lift Which Boats? Understanding Economic and Family Inequalities Across Generations
Professor Deirdre Bloome

Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Michigan

Via Zoom (Email for the link.)


In assessing the extent to which individuals escape childhood disadvantages (or maintain childhood advantages), researchers often study relative mobility across generations (individuals’ movements up or down the income rankings from their parents’ positions). I will explore the connections between absolute and relative mobility, combining formal analyses with empirical illustrations to address several questions: Are there trade-offs or complementarities between absolute and relative mobility? What family dynamics predict these mobility experiences? Results suggest that absolute mobility can be increased by reducing relative mobility and that mobility experiences are strongly associated with family structure. Policies that promote absolute mobility have the potential to enhance living standards across generations without increasing equality of opportunity.

Bio: Deirdre Bloome is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Faculty Associate of the Population Studies Center and the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan. Her research uses demographic and statistical techniques to understand how patterns of social stratification are produced and reproduced in the United States. She holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy and an AM in Statistics from Harvard University. Her work has been published in outlets including the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, and Demography, it has been supported by funders including the NIH, the NSF, and the Russell Sage Foundation, and it has been recognized by awards including the William Julius Wilson early career award from the American Sociological Association's section on Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility.


Thursday, March 18, 2021 3:30 PM

Title: The Interconnected Histories of South African and American Sociology: Knowledge in the Service of Colonial Violence
Professor Zine Magubane

Associate Professor
Boston College

Via Zoom (Email for the link.)


South African sociology is a colonial discipline. As such, it was not born out of a desire to add to the general store of knowledge about human nature and social relations. Rather, its raison d’être was to produce knowledge in the service of apartheid. Therefore, the matrix of ideas and understandings that coalesced around the concept of ‘culture’ in South African sociology cannot readily be separated from the issue of cultural violence. Indeed, to review the history of South African sociology is to review the history of an idea—culture—deployed in the service of colonial violence. The ideas about culture that were the bedrock of the South African apartheid policy of ‘separate development’ took the shape that they did because of the strength of the connection between ‘scientific sociology’ in South Africa and the apartheid regime. South African sociology was not, however, a sui generis phenomenon. As an imperial episteme it traced its roots and borrowed many of its concepts about culture from American sociology, which was, itself, shaped primarily to meet the ideological needs of the post-Civil War ‘New South’. The concept of ‘cultural difference’ in American sociology, which evolved out of the practical needs of transforming industrial and agrarian labor relations in the period following emancipation, captured the hearts and minds of the first generation of South African sociologists. The goal of this essay, therefore, is twofold. First, to provide a genealogy of American sociology that explains how a new interpretive framework was born which held that: cultures are bounded units; cultures emerge partially out of the biological and partly out of the social; cultures put their stamp on the individual and gave them an identity; and cultures prepared different people for different tasks within a hierarchically ordered political economy. Second, to show how that interpretive framework was taken up by the first generation of South African sociologists who hoped to bolster their own claims to legitimacy by demonstrating how much they had learned from American sociologists. 


Thursday, April 22, 2021 3:30 PM

Jordanna Matlon
Assistant Professor, School of International Service, American University

Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality and Cosponsored with the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies and the Department of Sociology

Title: “Tapping Imaginaries: Guinness and the African Man.”

Abstract: I explore three recent Guinness Africa advertising campaigns: Michael Power, Guinness Greatness, and Made of More, to interrogate scripts of informality and consumer politics in the making of late capitalism’s African urban man. Whereas the fictional Michael Power was characterized as the James Bond of Africa, subsequent campaigns celebrated everyday heroes: Greatness declaring a “drop of greatness in each man” and Made of More extolling the clandestine sartorial elegance of Congo’s sapeurs. All of the campaigns brought in immense profits from the African consumer market and were widely lauded as exemplary within the advertising industry itself. As significant as their collective appreciation was this shift in representation, and reflected the brewery’s recognition of changing models of accumulation in the African urban informal economy and the corresponding aspirations that they ignited. Guinness’s successful appeal to a new generation of African male consumers provides a case study of multinational marketing in bottom billion capitalism.

Jordanna Matlon is an urban sociologist who studies racial capitalism and the articulation of Black masculinity in Africa and the African diaspora. She is generally interested in the ways “Blackness” operates as a signifier, and as it intersects with gender norms, manifests in popular culture, and illuminates our understanding of political economy. Her book, A Man among Other Men: The Long Crisis of Black Masculinity in Racial Capitalism, is under contract with Cornell University Press.


Via Zoom (Email for the link.)