Sociology Colloquia Series

The overarching goal of the Sociology Colloquia Series is to build intellectual engagement and community in our department for faculty and graduate students alike. 

For the 2019-2020 academic year, the colloquia committee will focus on the following three types of events: those in which we share our own research; those in which we invite outside speakers whose work is related to the research interests of the department; and brown-bag professionalization workshops for graduate students.

Suggestions for hosted events can be submitted using this online form, emailed to the department assistant or


NOTE: beginning Winter 2020, department events will run from 12-1:15pm. For the Fall quarter, we'll stick with the 11:40 start time, and end at 1pm; events will remain in RCC 301 less otherwise noted.

    Fall Quarter


    Stephanie Malia Hom on "The Island in the Middle Sea: Lampedusa, Migration, and the Ripple Effects of Empire"

    Thursday, October 24, 2019

    Time: 11:40 - 1:00pm
    Location: Rachel Carson College 301

    From 10:30-11:30, in RCC 301, Stephanie will meet with graduate students to discuss paths in and outside of the academy.

    Hom's talk will explore the lasting connections between Italy’s current crisis of migration and detention and the carceral archipelago of its recent past. It interrogates the layered histories of the island of Lampedusa, and in particular, how the movements occasioned by Italy’s nation-making and colonial projects in the early twentieth century have textured migration and detention in the twenty-first. It traces the ways in which the control of mobility, vis-à-vis a discourse of temporary permanence, has informed the creation of these exclusionary spaces, and how Italy’s neglected colonial history in Libya (1911–43) has become cited and expanded in the politics of the present, transforming Lampedusa into the southern border of “Fortress Europe.” What is at stake is a sustained critique of empire and mobility, with Italy as the keystone for imperialism, past and present, in the Mediterranean.

    Stephanie Malia Hom is Executive Director of the Acus Foundation in Berkeley, CA. Hom writes and lectures on modern Italy and the Mediterranean, Italian literature and culture, colonialism and imperialism, migration and detention, and tourism studies. She is the author of Empire's Mobius Strip: Italy's Crisis of Migration and Detention (Cornell, 2019) and The Beautiful Country: Tourism and the Impossible State of Destination Italy (Toronto, 2015). She also co-edited with Ruth Ben-Ghiat Italian Mobilities (Routledge, 2015). Her essays and articles have been published in wide range of venues, including the leading journals in the fields of Italian studies, tourism history, urban studies, and folklore.

    Use code "09FLYER" to receive a 30% discount when ordering Empire's Mobius Strip directly from Cornell University Press. (PDF-flyer)

    Co-Sponsored by Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, the Research Center for the Americas, and Italian Language Program, Dept. of Languages and Applied Linguistics


    Karen Tice on "Feminist Radical Left Internationalism and Border Crossings to Cuba: The Vexing of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Political Solidarities, 1960-1985"

    Thursday, November 07, 2019

    Time: 11:40 - 1:00pm
    Location: Rachel Carson College 301

    A wide spectrum of left feminist activists from the global North have participated in international solidarity delegations such as the Venceremos Brigades, to support global liberation struggles, a longstanding form of radical social activism used to challenge imperialism, capitalism, and militarism. Based on oral histories conducted with women revolutionary travelers who identified with women’s, gay, and/or black ethnic liberation struggles; personal and organizational archives; travel accounts; and radical left publications, Tice focuses on the differing narratives and experiences recounted by U.S. radical women of color and white feminists who defied U.S. travel bans to travel to Cuba.

    Tice analyzes the accounts of women of color and white feminists that were generated by their border crossings to support the Cuban revolution. Tice highlights the differences and overlaps in how white women and women of color reacted to their political travels to Cuba and how intersectional politics and schisms shaped their stories and interpretations of Cuba and each other, as well as the impact on their post-Cuba coalitional activism. Tice focuses on the internal debates within the delegations about the prioritizing of intersectional relations of power, highlight the political differences around Cuban revolutionary practices, revolutionary subjectivities, and the daily negotiations of race, sexuality, gender, and cultural imperialism that occurred while in Cuba. Tice examines the fault lines and limits but also the post-Cuba networks and circuits that supported subsequent U.S. coalition building among feminist-identified travelers to Cuba. Tice concludes by suggesting the import of these debates and experiences for contemporary transnational feminist solidarity delegations and coalitional exchanges.

    Karen Tice is a Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky. She traveled to Cuba in 1978 and again in 2015. She is currently writing a book on U.S. Cuban solidarity exchanges, past and present,  and the intersectional and transnational solidarity politics of radical women of color and white feminists.

    Co-Sponsored by the Feminist Studies department.


    Ipek Demirsu on "Verona the City of Love and Hate: Struggle to Define City-space and Belonging in the Age of Right-wing Populism"

    Thursday, November 14, 2019

    Time: 11:40 - 1:00pm
    Location: Rachel Carson College 301

    The picturesque setting of Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet, the city of Verona is a tourist hub in northern Italy with its rich history, its world famous Valpolicella wine, and its still functioning Roman Arena that annually hosts operas and concerts. Yet, one lesser known reality is how the city is considered as a fortress of far-right movements and neofascist groups since World War II, today institutionalized in the city administration, seeking to define the city and belonging thereof. The dominance of far-right groups who have found greater expression through the right-wing populist party Lega is challenged by a thickly interwoven network of local associations remarkably situated in the neighborhood of Veronetta, who pursue everyday practices of appropriating urban spaces whilst redefining belonging and city-zenship. It is at this conjuncture that the case of Verona is taken to apply microscopic lenses to understand the global rise of right-wing populist politics in the everyday urban context through an exclusive construction of belonging and local identity, as well as how such representations are challenged by actors who seek to create an inclusive city for various minorities.

    Ipek Demirsu is a PhD student in Social Sciences at the University of Padova, with a focus on migration and the city in the Italian context. Previously, Ipek completed a PhD in Political Science and International Relations at Sabanci University (Istanbul), during which had the chance to spend time as a visiting researcher in the stimulating environment of University of Otago National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Ipek has worked as post-doctoral researcher in a joint project conducted by Sabanci University and KU Leuven, entitled "Assessing interdependence between the European Union and Turkey: Policies and cooperation in regional and global governance". Ipek is author of the book Counter-terrorism and the Prospects of Human Rights: Securitizing Difference and Dissent published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017. Ipek's research interests include human rights,democracy and pluralismsecurity studiesmigration studies, everyday resistance, urban ethnography, and qualitative research methods.

  • Winter Quarter

  • Aliya Saperstein on The Opioid Epidemic and Racial Classification on Death Certificates

    Thursday, February 27, 2020

    Time: 12:00 - 1:15pm
    Location: Rachel Carson College 301 

    Previous research has highlighted not only the existence of individual racial fluidity in censuses and surveys, but also inconsistency in racial classification across U.S. vital statistics systems, including stereotypical associations with specific causes of death. This, in combination with what some have called the “whitewashing” of the current opioid epidemic, raises the question: are decedents more likely to be classified as white if opioid use was listed as a contributing cause relative to decedents whose deaths were not deemed opioid-related? To provide an answer, we draw on recently released restricted-use data from Mortality Disparities in American Communities (MDAC), which links respondents from the 2008 American Community Survey to death records through 2015. We find that respondents previously recorded as nonwhite who later die of opioid overdoses have significantly greater odds of being (re)classified as white, all other measured factors being equal. Odds of such reclassification are lower in states hit hardest by the epidemic or with low death certificate drug data quality, suggesting error is not a primary explanation of the results. Instead, the patterns suggest that racialization of the recent opioid epidemic as a public health emergency disproportionately affecting white Americans may be shaping the data used to track racial disparities in mortality.

    Aliya Saperstein is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. Saperstein received her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Washington and her Ph.D. in Sociology and Demography from the University of California-Berkeley. Her research focuses on the social processes through which people come to perceive, name, and deploy seemingly immutable categorical differences —such as race and sex—and how such processes create and maintain social inequality.