American Sociological Association

Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline: Past Recipients

Most Recent FAD Awards

June 2019

Miriam Abelson, Portland State University, $8,000, Survival of Rural LGBTQ People Amidst Far-Right Organizing in the U.S. Northwest. While both sociological literature and the popular imagination often associate queer and transgender life with cities, a growing body of research shows that LGBTQ people do live and even thrive in rural spaces. Yet, the changing political and social climate in the Trump era, along with increased far-right activity in rural communities, has produced a polarized political and social environment that threatens the interdependence crucial to survival in remote rural communities. This study will investigate the impacts of local, regional, and national political discourses during the 2020 presidential elections on the well-being of rural LGBTQ people by triangulating interviews with rural LGBTQ people in the Northwest U.S., observation in their communities, and an analysis of local news and online discussion forums. In addition to building community capacity by employing community researchers, the study will expand the geographic diversity of LGBTQ research in sociology and will generate deeper understandings of rural contexts that are simultaneously marginalized economically and politically, yet hold great relevance as battlegrounds over right-wing extremism and contemporary social justice issues.

Abigail Andrews, University of California-San Diego, $8,000, The Everyday Politics of Mass Deportation to Mexico. In the past decade, the U.S. has deported more than five million people, more than half of them to Mexico and over 90% of them men. Deportation is also increasingly intertwined with detention, incarceration, and repeated removal, as the U.S. government both pulls migrants from jails and prisons and penalizes them for petty crimes (including migration). I refer to these combined processes as the deportation-carceral system. In this project, I ask how that system shapes deportees’ citizenship, broadly conceived as their political identities, civic embeddedness, and strategies to advocate for rights and resources, both in Mexico and in relation to the United States. I am especially interested in the uneven, gendered geography of this process. Though folk logic suggests that deportees are going to a place they are already citizens, and a significant scholarship examines the political effects of emigrants’ return, many contemporary deportees have lived over a decade in the United States. Instead of returning “home,” they often relocate to dense, urban neighborhoods or border regions. To better understand how deportees’ experiences in the U.S. interact with different Mexican contexts to shape this process, I examine three, interrelated case studies: Tijuana, a border city where deportees tend to stay if they have lived in the U.S. for many years and/or been heavily impacted by the deportation-carceral system; Mexico City, the urban capital where deportees go as an intentional return into urban Mexico; and Oaxaca, a sending region where deportees return when they have spent less time in or have fewer ties to the United States. In each site, I draw on in-depth interviews with deportees, state agents, and migrant advocates, to illuminate the interplay of U.S. and Mexican forces that keep some deportees alienated while enabling others to fight for themselves.

Shai Dromi, Harvard University, $8,000, Israel-Palestine on the American Campus. Recent scholarship has said much about the trajectories and outcomes of social movements, but has said far less about the ways the grievances that animate such movements become salient in the first place. This project examines the construction and negotiation of grievances by tracing the historical path of one of the thorniest controversies on American campuses—the Israel-Palestine Conflict. Existing work on U.S. campus activism on Israel-Palestine has focused on social movement tactics, and has paid less attention to the ways activists have come to view the fate of the region as bearing direct relevance to campus life. The project uses archival research to uncover the ways advocates on both sides of the debate understood and represented the Conflict in different historical moments. It compares campus activism on Israel-Palestine to activism on other international controversies in order to highlight the different ways campus groups’ grievances took form. Understanding how certain grievances attain particular salience in public debate will contribute to social movement theory by highlighting a key aspect of collective mobilization. The project will also intervene in current discussions on the increasing politicization of the American campus.

Laura Hart, Missouri State University, $7,771, Risk and Adaptation in a Cancer Cluster Town. This project explores community response to residential toxic exposure in a small midwestern town, where approximately 40 children have been diagnosed with or have died of cancers of the brain and central nervous system since the mid-1990s. Drawing on in-depth interviews, archival documents, and government reports, I examine systems of power that hamper collective community action. I explore the ways that, despite a greater awareness of toxic threat, townspeople adapt to risk rather than work to eliminate it. I build on the idea that “place” is a powerful contributor to the ways in which people interpret their lives by showing that ‘othering’ is inherent in the meanings people attach to place. This involves a normative evaluation of the community as valuable, and enables it to become viewed as an object at risk. This research responds to a longstanding call to incorporate more critical theoretical frameworks in environmental studies. I turn to affect—an often taken-for-granted mechanism of power—to examine how risk discourses and strategies reproduce inequalities. This work aims to advance scholarly conversation on how risk is used to maintain concepts of selfhood and group membership, and to enrich existing agendas in environmental sociology and the sociology of emotion.

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