Peter Bearman elected to the National Academy of Medicine

National Academy of Medicine.jpg

INCITE director Peter Bearman was one of 100 new members inducted this year into the National Academy of Medicine. Bearman, who is already a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, was elected “for being one of two original designers of the influential Adolescent Health Study, and making critically important discoveries concerning the influence of social networks on sexually transmitted disease and the rise of autism diagnoses.”

Obama Presidency Oral History completes first interview with Joseph E. Lowery


On Saturday, September 28th, the Obama Presidency Oral History officially completed its first interview, with advisory board member Karida Brown traveling to Atlanta to speak with Rev. Joseph E. Lowery.

Lowery was a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr., and one of the first civil rights leaders to endorse Barack Obama in 2008. We could think of no better person with whom to launch this project, and we're incredibly grateful he was willing to share his memories.


"Working for Respect," by Adam Reich and Peter Bearman, receives the 2019 Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award

Pictured in group photo (from left to right): Adam Reich, Co-Winner 2019 Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award; Peter Bearman, Co-Winner 2019 Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award; Ira I. Katznelson, Interim Provost, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, and Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects; Jane Gaines, Chair Faculty Publication Committee and Co-Chair Distinguished Book Award Jury; Jennifer Crewe, Associate Provost and Director, Columbia University Press. Photo taken at the 2019 Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award ceremony

Pictured in group photo (from left to right): Adam Reich, Co-Winner 2019 Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award; Peter Bearman, Co-Winner 2019 Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award; Ira I. Katznelson, Interim Provost, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, and Deputy Director, Columbia World Projects; Jane Gaines, Chair Faculty Publication Committee and Co-Chair Distinguished Book Award Jury; Jennifer Crewe, Associate Provost and Director, Columbia University Press. Photo taken at the 2019 Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award ceremony

"Working for Respect: Community and Conflict at Walmart," a book by Adam Reich and Peter Bearman that details INCITE's Summer for Respect project, has received the 2019 Columbia University Press Distinguished Book Award. The press hosted an award ceremony for the book on September 25th.

To learn more about the book or purchase it, visit here.

Mary Marshall Clark joins “The Brian Lehrer Show” for 9/11 Anniversary



Yesterday, Columbia Center for Oral History Research Director Mary Marshall Clark visited WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show for its September 11th anniversary show. In addition to discussing the September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project, Clark joined Lehrer as he accepted phone calls from audience members, who shared moving reflections on the events of 9/11 and the meaning it carries for them 18 years later. Listen below:

Publication | Algorithmic Control in Platform Food Delivery Work

Grocery Delivery.jpg

Authors: Kathleen Griesbach , Adam Reich, Luke Elliott-Negri, and Ruth Milkman

Researchers at INCITE have published a new study analyzing the processes by which food delivery platforms like Instacart, Postmates, and GrubHub control their workers. Drawing on a survey of 955 food delivery workers and 55 in-depth interviews, the researchers found variation in the extent to which different platforms use algorithmic management to assign and evaluate work. Instacart, the largest grocery delivery platform, was found to regulate the time and activities of workers more stringently than other platform delivery companies, exerting a particularly demanding type of control that the authors term “algorithmic despotism.”

This study was conducted as part of INCITE’s Grocery Delivery Workers Project, which seeks to explore a variety of pertinent questions about the grocery delivery industry.

Read the full paper here, published in Socius, here.

New additions to the Obama Presidency Oral History research and administrative team

After extensive searches, INCITE and the Columbia Center for Oral History are pleased to announce several additions to the research and administrative team for the Obama Presidency Oral History project. The project, expected to include up to 425 participants and over 1200 hours of video and audio recordings, aims to produce a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and impact of the Obama Administration.

Three exceptional presidential historians will join the current team of Peter Bearman, Mary Marshall Clark, Kimberly Springer, Michael Falco, William McAllister, and Terrell Frazier. Nicole Hemmer is a political historian specializing in media, conservatism, and the far-right. She has undertaken a wide-ranging set of projects, including her first book, Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics (Penn Press, 2016). Dov Weinryb Grohsgal has taught in the Princeton University Department of History and served as an associate research scholar in the university’s School of International and Public Affairs. His research, scholarship and teaching focus at the intersection of presidential administrations, social movements, inequality, and race; his forthcoming book is “Bring Us Together”: The Politics and Policies of School Desegregation in the Nixon White House. Evan D. McCormick has held postdoctoral fellowships from the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. His work focuses on Inter-American relations during the Reagan Years, and contested ideas of security, democracy, and rights in the Western Hemisphere. Evan’s first book, under contract from Cornell University Press, is entitled Beyond Revolution and Repression: U.S. Foreign Policy and Latin American Democracy, 1980-1989

Also joining as Project Coordinator will be Liz Strong, a graduate of our Oral History Master of Arts program. Liz co-authored Columbia’s guide for oral history transcription and audit-editing in 2018. She has served as an Oral History Program Manager for the New York Preservation Oral History Project (NYPAP) and as Project Coordinator for the Brooklyn Historical Society’s Muslims in Brooklyn Project.

Research and editorial efforts will be aided further by current INCITE staffers Tess McClure and Julius Wilson. Tess is a journalist and editor, previously the deputy editor for VICE New Zealand. She recently earned a Master’s in Journalism at Columbia University. Julius, who also serves as INCITE’s Program and Communications Coordinator, graduated from Columbia in 2018 with a major in Sociology and a minor in African-American Studies, writing his thesis on journalistic professional values in the Trump era. 


Bloomberg article on Instacart workers draws upon INCITE's Grocery Delivery Workers Project

Illustration: Jack Sachs for Bloomberg Business Week

Illustration: Jack Sachs for Bloomberg Business Week


"Instacart seems to demand that workers behave like employees, but they have none of the benefits of employment” - Kathleen Griesbach, INCITE Research Fellow

A recent article on Instacart workers, written by Josh Eidelson for Bloomberg Businessweek, references interview and survey data from a forthcoming study by Kathleen Griesbach, Adam Reich, Luke Elliott-Negri, and Ruth Milkman, conducted as part of INCITE’s Grocery Delivery Workers Project.

Read the full piece: Instacart Hounds Workers to Take Jobs That Aren’t Worth It

The Obama Foundation and Columbia University Announce the Obama Presidency Oral History Project

Hundreds of people to participate in comprehensive record of the decisions, actions, and effects of the Obama presidency. Partners, University of Chicago and University of Hawaiʻi, Will Collect Oral Histories from President and Mrs. Obama’s Early Lives 


NEW YORK — Columbia University and the Obama Foundation are pleased to announce that the Columbia Center for Oral History Research, housed at INCITE, has been selected to conduct the official oral history of the Obama Presidency. This project will provide a comprehensive, enduring record of the decisions, actions, and effects of this historic presidency. The University of Hawaiʻi and the University of Chicago will partner with Columbia in this project. The University of Hawaiʻi will focus on President Obama’s early life, and the University of Chicago will concentrate on the Obamas’ lives in Chicago. 

“The pride we feel in counting President Obama as an alumnus involves much more than the recognition of his time as a student here many years ago. This is a relationship built on shared values and interests that is producing public spirited projects of enormous, even transformative, potential at Columbia,” said University President Lee C. Bollinger. “The latest venture will capitalize on Columbia's unsurpassed talent for assembling oral history and will, I am sure, create an invaluable resource for understanding an historic presidency.”

This project builds on a longstanding tradition of presidential oral histories. For more than 60 years, oral history has been used to record the stories of people inside and outside of the White House that shed light on a president’s time in office. This will be the second presidential oral history project to be conducted by Columbia, home to the country’s largest and oldest oral history archive, which houses the Eisenhower Administration Oral History project. 

“Columbia’s experience executing complicated and detailed oral histories set them apart, and we believe the university’s thoughtful approach will result in an exciting oral history archive for historians, academics, and storytellers as well as the public to learn about and investigate the Obama presidency,” said David Simas, Chief Executive Officer of the Obama Foundation. “We are grateful to the University of Hawaiʻi and the University of Chicago for participating and ensuring that the important work that preceded President and Mrs. Obama’s time in the White House is integrated into this project.”    

“Michelle Obama famously observed that ʻYou canʻt really understand Barack until you understand Hawaiʻi. The University of Hawaiʻi’s extraordinary Center for Oral History is looking forwarding to exploring those early days with those who were part of President Obama’s story," said University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner.

And in a joint statement from the University of Chicago, Adam Green, Associate Professor of American History, and Jacqueline Stewart, Professor in the Department of Cinema and American Studies, announced, “We are pleased to collaborate with Columbia on this exciting project. The stories of Michelle and Barack Obama are intertwined with the story of Chicago and the South Side in particular. We look forward to contributing to that historic narrative, with a focus on how their city helped to shape them as civic leaders.”

During the next five years, starting this summer, the Obama Presidency Oral History Project will conduct interviews with about 400 people, including senior leaders and policy makers within the administration, as well as elected officials, campaign staff, journalists, and other key figures -- Republican and Democrat -- outside of the White House.

The Obama Presidency Oral History Project also will incorporate interviews with individuals who represent different dimensions of daily American life, whose perspectives enable the archive to weave recollections of administration officials with the stories and experiences of people who were affected by the administration’s decisions. This project will also examine Mrs. Obama’s work and legacy as First Lady.

“We are honored to document the legacy of President Obama. Our goal is to set a new benchmark for presidential oral histories in terms of the diversity and breadth of narratives assembled and depth of understanding achieved,” said Mary Marshall Clark, Director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and a Project Co-Investigator. “Central to our project is a commitment to candidly document the stories of key administration alumni and bring them into conversation with the varied experiences of ordinary Americans.”

Clark will work with Peter Bearman, Jonathan R. Cole Professor of the Social Sciences and Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics, and Kimberly Springer, Curator of Columbia’s Oral History Archives.

“We conduct interdisciplinary research, and a trademark of this project is bringing together experts from across fields of knowledge and expertise to ensure our interviewers are asking the right questions, whether they are in the offices of policymakers who enacted the Affordable Care Act, or at the kitchen table of citizens whose lives were affected by it,” said Bearman, who will serve as the principal investigator for the project.

Columbia University also announced the formation of the Obama Presidency Oral History Advisory Board, composed of leading presidential historians, including Robert Dallek and Douglas Brinkley; acclaimed journalists such as Michele Norris and Jelani Cobb; and top scholars in history, political science, sociology, and public health, who can speak to how this period affected the lives of those inside and outside of Washington. A full list of advisory board members is below.

The oral histories are expected to be publicly available online at Columbia University no later than 2026. Following the project’s completion, the Foundation will look for opportunities to connect the oral history archive with related collections and content, including the National Archives-administered digital records of the Obama presidency.

“Columbia is committed to preserving our past for use in the future,” Springer said. “Columbia’s collection is distinguished for the inclusion of perspectives, not just ‘Great Men,’ but the many others who shape our world. Our archive includes a vast array of histories so that current and future generations of historians and citizens can learn lessons from our times.

Obama Presidency Oral History Advisory Board

  • Lee C. Bollinger, Chair, President and Seth Low Professor of the University, Columbia University

  • Peter Bearman, Vice-Chair, Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) and Jonathan R. Cole Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

  • Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University

  • Douglas Brinkley, Katherine Tsanoff Brown Professor of Humanities, Rice University

  • Karida Brown, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

  • Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism and Director of the Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights, Columbia Journalism School

  • Robert Dallek, presidential historian and author

  • Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department, Columbia University

  • David Hollinger,  Preston Hotchkis Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

  • Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

  • Jennifer Lee, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

  • Kenneth Mack, Lawrence D. Biele Professor of Law and Affiliate Professor of History, Harvard University

  • Helen Milner, B.C. Forbes Professor of Politics and International Affairs and Director of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

  • Alondra Nelson, President of the Social Science Research Council and Harold F. Linder Chair in the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study

  • Michele Norris, radio journalist and former host of the National Public Radio (NPR) evening news program “All Things Considered”

  • Vicki L. Ruiz, Distinguished Professor of History and Chicano/Latino Studies, History School of Humanities, University of California, Irvine

  • Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University

  • Keith Wailoo, Chair of the Department of History and Henry Putnam University Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton University

Background on Columbia Center for Oral History

The Columbia Center for Oral History, founded in 1948, is the country’s largest and oldest oral history archive, with more than 11,000 recorded interviews and over 25,000 hours of transcript. The collection is renowned for its diversity, including memories from the 1870s to present, from the experiences of labor organizers to recollections of Supreme Court justices. Columbia is also home to the nation’s only graduate level training program in the field of oral history.

Housed at INCITE, Columbia University’s leading interdisciplinary social science research center, Columbia Oral History’s recent major works include projects to document how New Yorkers experienced September 11, the “Rule of Law” project to examine Guantanamo and civil rights law in the 21st Century, and a history of the Council of Foreign Relations.

INCITE establishes publishing imprint; first series, "Dispatches from the Field," launches next month

Cover 1.png

We at INCITE are pleased to announce that we have established an independent publishing imprint, under the moniker INCITE Press. The press will promote work by graduate students and other budding scholars, while also serving as an outlet for innovative and unconventional expressions of scholarship that may not fit the parameters of traditional academic publishers. By publishing manuscripts and compositions that blend disciplines, genres, and styles in creative and revealing ways, the press supports INCITE’s mission to holistically engage, investigate, and address social issues.

The first work to come under the imprint is Issue 1 of Dispatches from the Field, an annual publication series dedicated to bringing ethnographic data to a broader public. The book is the result of collaborative research, writing, and editing by current and former MA students of the Department of Sociology at Columbia University. As a hard copy publication, Dispatches from the Field challenges traditional book formats, opening the way for non-linear approaches to reading and interpretations that will vary according to each reader’s path through the documents.

This year’s edition includes a series of reflections that refer to the American Dream, or rather, a set of differing American Dreams and their elusive promises. A collection of interview transcripts, field notes, poems, and drawings describe a multitude of ideals based on individual experiences with labor, immigration, incarceration, and participation in the informal economy. Dispatches from the Field: The American Dream will be released on May 7th.

CCOHR and INCITE partner with Human Rights Campaign for new oral history project

Human Rights Campaign.png

The Columbia Center for Oral History (CCOHR) and INCITE are pleased to announce a new oral history project in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, which will focus on the HRC’s mission, achievements, growth, and role in the LGBTQ movement. The project will collect and archive approximately 150 hours of audio and video, recorded over the course of 80 sessions with 40 narrators consisting primarily of HRC founders, staff, and board members.

These interviews will center on the organization’s most transformative moments, like the early AIDS crisis, marriage equality, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the expanding focus around diversity and state work, with the recognition that these developments are crucial not only to the organization’s history, but to that of the LGBTQ movement more broadly. The project asks, just as the HRC has asked: what can a single organization tell us about a social movement and social change? How do historic moments shape organizations and vice versa? How do institutions with diverse constituencies reconcile competing needs and agendas for a forward-thinking movement, all while effectively responding to consistent external attacks?

As the field of oral history has shifted from a focus on the past to helping organizations evolve in the present, part of CCOHR’s central mission has been to address human rights challenges that dynamically link the past to the present and future. This project aims to continue that work, by promoting public knowledge about the unique history of the HRC in a way that can inform and contextualize the pursuit of equality moving forward.

Request for Applications: INCITEment Series, 2019/2010

INCITEment (David Tomic) 2.jpg

INCITE is requesting applications for the next installments in our INCITEment Series. Designed to convert knowledge into action, this series provides financial and administrative support to public programs that incite opportunities for change and pathways for mobilization. By gathering together citizens, scholars, activists, and community organizations, the series aims to bring their collective knowledge to bear on the prevalent issues of our time.
We welcome proposals from Columbia affiliates (faculty, students, staff, or otherwise) who can speak to and are interested in key social problems and innovative means of addressing them. While open to a diversity of topics, we are especially interested in proposals that reflect the salient themes of INCITE's work, such as migration, low-wage work, social movements, health, race, the present political climate, and education.
We encourage creativity and originality, and welcome ideas that experiment with various formats. Past programs include panels, workshops, poetry readings, and documentary screenings. Most important is that the projects produce clear paths for action, and leverage the expertise and capabilities of the scholars, citizens, and institutional resources in the room toward practical work in alignment with INCITE’s mission.

Proposals for the 2019-2020 academic year are due on June 1st. Decisions will be made quickly and announced on June 15th. Click below to access the full RFA and apply.

Third Annual REALM Meeting Takes Place in Abu Dhabi

The leaders of Realm

The leaders of Realm


This past weekend brought about the third annual meeting for INCITE’S Research & Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) project. The meetings, previously convened in March and November of 2017, involve all Principle Investigators (PIs) who receive funding through REALM, and serve as a vital component of this ambitious research initiative. By uniting researchers from a diversity of disciplines and institutions, these conversations are crucial to enabling collaboration and comparison across REALM’s network of projects.   

Over the course of the two-day gathering on NYU Abu Dhabi’s campus, PIs shared project updates, initial findings and research experiences. Highlights included Bilesha Weeraratne discussing her work with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Labor to shape more transparent recruitment processes; Caroline Oselia sharing fieldnotes from her recent fieldwork in Kerala, India; and Daniel Karell demonstrating the mobile-based app he used to survey respondents in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

“It’s been rewarding to see PIs develop collaborations with each other over the years. A demographer working in Bangladesh can draw on the insights of an anthropologist working in Kerala; the Sudanese government can reshape its data system by working with researchers in the Philippines. REALM structures a truly interdisciplinary, international exchange.“
- Peter Bearman, Principal Investigator

A final REALM meeting is anticipated for June 2020, at which point REALM PIs will be prepared to share the final findings from their project.