Tunisian Transition Oral History Project Complete

Perhaps most compelling to the aims of this project are the narrators’ testimonies of their experiences with the technical government itself as they attempted to answer the outstanding demands that sparked the revolution, such as a lack of political freedoms, food price inflation, corruption, and poor living conditions.

The Columbia Center for Oral History (CCOHR) and INCITE are pleased to announce the completion of the Tunisian Transition Oral History Project. Following the address of the former prime minister of the Republic of Tunisia, Mehdi Jomaa,  at Columbia University's World Leaders Forum in 2015, the Office of University President Lee Bollinger approached INCITE to discuss undertaking an oral history project about Tunisia's technocratic government (2014-15) and its role in the transition to democracy following the 2011 Tunisian Revolution. 

The Tunisian Transition Project includes 58 oral histories with 41 narrators totaling 110 recorded hours. Narrators include politicians, officials and notable figures in the Tunisian transitional period, including Mehdi Jomaa, Moncef Marzouki, and Neila Chaabane. Each interview began with a historically grounded question, “Where were you during the events of December and January 2010?" From there, narrators also discussed their life trajectories, from childhood memories of Tunisia to their coming of age in Tunisian politics and the directions that their diverse careers took them. Perhaps most compelling to the aims of this project are the narrators’ testimonies of their experiences with the technical government itself as they attempted to answer the outstanding demands that sparked the revolution, such as a lack of political freedoms, food price inflation, corruption, and poor living conditions.

Though there is a wealth of information on the events leading up to the Arab Spring and a good deal of information on the immediate aftermath, this project engages with the less treated subject of the technical government itself—how Tunisia's leader's arrived at such a solution, whether or not it produced the intended effects, and what was revealed about Tunisian society in the process.

The archives will be made publicly available through Columbia Libraries in early 2019.
One can learn more about the Tunisian Transition Oral History Project here.  

INCITE Hosts Networks Short Course


Taught by Mattias Smångs, assistant professor of sociology at Fordham University, the two-day (November 9th and 16th) networks short course introduced eighteen researchers from Columbia University and other nearby universities/organizations to some of the fundamental ideas, concepts, measures, and methods of social network analysis. Participants learned how to use the social network analysis software UCINET to perform basic analyses. Smångs also presented on his own research, “Delinquency, Social Skills and the Structure of Peer Relations: Assessing Criminological Theories by Social Network Theory.” INCITE would like to thank Smångs and all of the participants for making it such a lively class!

REALM Studies Present at NYU Abu Dhabi 2018 Research Conference

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The New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi Research Conference aims to highlight the role NYU Abu Dhabi has played and continues to play in establishing itself as a hub for education, scholarship, and advanced research in Abu Dhabi. The conference will include a Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) panel, during which Daniel Karell, Rabia Malik, Hannah Brueckner, and Susan Godlonton will present their work on REALM projects.

If you're in the region and interested in attending, please register for this event by October 30, 2018. We look forward to seeing you there!

Archive for the Harriman Institute Oral History Project Officially Launches

The archive for the Harriman Institute Oral History Project, a collaboration between the Harriman Institute, the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR) and INCITE, was formally launched on October 29th, 2018. In celebration of the archive's release, the Harriman Institute hosted a dinner and panel discussion (video above) on the Institute's past, present and future role in area studies and academia. Moderated by George Gavrilis, the panel brought together key Harriman Institute alumni, including Ronald Suny, Jeri Laber, Toby Gati and Stephen Cohen (all pictured above), to reminisce of their time at the Institute and discuss its influence on the making of U.S. foreign policy toward the post-Soviet region. 

You can learn more about the Harriman Institute Oral History Project here.

Harriman Institute Oral Histories featured in PONARS Eurasia policy memo

Alexander Cooley, the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, and George Gavrilis, an independent consultant specializing in international relations, higher education, and oral history, recently published a policy memo on PONARS which uses the Harriman Institute oral histories conducted by CCOHR to explore post-cold war developments in area studies. The authors dispute the perceived decline of area studies after the collapse of the Soviet Union by tracing the paths of those involved in the Harriman Institute. Many of these individuals, among them Elizabeth Valkenier, Edward Kasinec, Jack Snyder, Alexander Motyl, and Peter Charow, among others, went on to play important roles in political science, human rights, studies of nationalism, art history and the non-governmental sector.  Reflecting on these oral histories, Cooley and Gavrilis conclude with the suggestion that we move away from the "rise and fall” model of area studies by addressing how area studies can evolve to meet the needs of our current moment. 

You can read Cooley and Gavrilis’ PONARS article here and can learn more about the Harriman Institute Oral History Project here.

INCITE launches Facing Whiteness website

INCITE is proud to announce the launch of the Facing Whiteness website. A collaboration between INCITE and Whitney Dow (creator of the “Whiteness Project”), Facing Whiteness explores how Americans who identify as white or partially white think about their racial identities, along with a variety of other issues. Over the course of 19 months (2017-18), we focused on three communities: Battle Creek, Michigan; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Richmond, Virginia. In each location, we participated in and observed local life: we attended church services and political meetings; visited local stores to discuss business and the community; and chatted with many, many people over coffee. Local participants became involved in Facing Whiteness through these social networks, completing our intake survey and, in some cases, participating in filmed interviews and later surveys.

The Facing Whiteness website houses many of the project’s outcomes, including: the full interview transcripts of all 110 participants, along with video excerpts, biographical information and participant-submitted photographs; visuals from the intake survey of over 850 residents, as well as a request form for access to all of the de-identified survey data; demographic, socioeconomic and political information about the three study locations; and an interactive timeline of the project. We hope the website will serve as a resource to those communities and individuals involved in conversations about race in America today. The website may be accessed at the following URL: https://www.facingwhiteness.incite.columbia.edu/.

We look forward to hearing your questions and comments regarding Facing Whiteness. If you have any communications regarding the project or website, please do not hesitate to contact us through Sam Lutzker (sal2176@columbia.edu).

Book Launch for Working for Respect: Community and Conflict at Walmart


On Monday, October 22, our university community, friends from NYU and CUNY, and members of the public gathered at Columbia Journalism School to celebrate the launch of Adam Reich and Peter Bearman's new book Working for Respect: Community and Conflict at Walmart. We thank everyone for coming - it was a lively crowd!

You can learn more about and purchase the book here.

Sakhi for South Asian Women Holds Fall Volunteer Training at INCITE


This past Saturday, September 29th, Sakhi for South Asian Women, a NYC-based gender justice organization hosted their first fall volunteer training at INCITE. We were excited to be able to offer our space and resources to support the important work which Sakhi does to engage communities and to encourage change. Support was offered through INCITE’s Resources for Nonprofits Initiative, through which organizations in New York City that promote just, equitable societies might request the use of Columbia resources, including but not limited to space for meetings or small events, a budget for food, computer or software use, etc.

We are looking forward to hosting Sakhi again for the second day of their fall volunteer training this coming Saturday, October 6th.

National Institute of Health Awards INCITE Three-Year Grant for Work on Assisted Reproductive Technology and Autism

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant to co-Principal Investigators Peter Bearman, Director of INCITE, and Christine Fountain, Associate Professor of Sociology at Fordham University to support their work on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and Autism. Keely Cheslack Postava, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, is a Co-Investigator on this project.

The goal of this study is to build and analyze the largest and most detailed dataset in existence—containing more than 11 million children born over two decades—on ART and developmental disabilities including autism, intellectual disability, and cerebral palsy, with the ultimate aims of understanding the relationship between ART and risk of these disorders, and distinguishing the social and biological mechanisms of the association. A unique feature of the dataset is rich geospatial data, enabling researchers to explore neighborhood and contextual factors that shape ART usage and autism diagnoses. In addition, the longitudinal nature of the data will provide a crucial picture of the long-term outcomes of children with autism from diagnosis and into adolescence and beyond. This research will provide families and health care providers with better information on which to make decisions, and help identify potential modifiable risk factors for autism and other developmental disabilities.  

Postdoctoral Research Scholars Join INCITE

INCITE will be joined this fall by three postdoctoral research scholars. They will contribute to research efforts for the Measuring Liberal Arts Education Project and the Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) pgoram, to work on a variety of projects as well as to continue developing their own research. We are excited for them to join us!

Postdoctoral Research Scholars

Chad Borkenhagen is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar on the Measuring the Liberal Arts project at INCITE. He received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago, and his research employs both qualitative and computational methods to explore the relationship between knowledge, culture, and organizational fields. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Social ForcesSocial Studies of Science, and Poetics.

Siqi Han is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar on the Measuring the Liberal Arts project at INCITE. She received her PhD in Sociology from The Ohio State University, and her research agenda examines class inequality in education and in the transition to adulthood. This research agenda is motivated by a theoretical interest in the economic and non-economic impacts of education over the life course. Her recent projects looked at the incentives and disincentives for pursuing a degree in STEM, the differences in transition to adulthood by college field of study, and the reward structure for non-cognitive skills in high school. These projects appeared in Journal of Marriage and FamilySocial Science ResearchDemographic Research, and other academic journals. 

Anna Lunn is Postdoctoral Research Scholar working on INCITE’s Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration project. She received a PhD in Sociology from Stanford University, and her research focuses on the social dimensions of individual and household economic decision-making in both India and the United States. She is particularly interested in how physical and social spaces shape the interpersonal exchanges around material goods. Her research combines qualitative interviews, statistical analysis and social network analysis. Her research has been supported by National Science Foundation (NSF), Stanford Center for International Development (SCID), and Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED). She is a former DHAsia/Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellow. Her work has appeared in Sociological Perspetives and Socio-Economic Review.

Support and Resources for Nonprofits

As a part of the Resources for Nonprofits initiative, this summer INCITE provided support to a number of organizations throughout New York City, offering space and financial support. The organizations that applied for and received support are committed to the promotion of a more just and equitable society.

Organizations which have received support to date include: African Communities Together, Anakbayan-NY, Art Start, and Global Action Project. We are excited to support these organizations and more as we continue to develop this initiative.

INCITE Announces High School and Undergraduate Summer Internship Program

For the summer of 2018 INCITE will host a group of high school undergraduate fellows who will devote their time to different INCITE projects. As they engage in their individual research tasks, the fellows will hone their own skills while also becoming familiar with INCITE's community and its various projects. In addition, fellows will gain insights on the research process from researchers possessing a wide range of experiences and have opportunities to develop their own questions and ideas. We are excited to have them join us for this summer! 

2018 High School and Undergraduate Summer Fellows

Jakub Boros, New York University Abu Dhabi
Melisa Demirovic, New York University Abu Dhabi
Riya Dulepet, High School Fellow
Akash Jason Singh, Columbia University
Keshar Shahi, New York University Abu Dhabi
Mark Xu, New York University Abu Dhabi

Amy Starecheski Named Director of OHMA


As of July 1, 2018 Amy Starecheski will be the director of OHMA (The Oral History Master of Arts program). Amy has been co-directing OHMA with Mary Marshall Clark who as of this transition will become a Founding Co-Director with Peter Bearman. Mary Marshall will also continue as the Director of CCOHR (the Columbia Center for Oral History Research). We would like to take this moment to recognize and thank Mary Marshall and congratulate Amy as the two assume their new roles. 

Read more on the OHMA blog

Article on the semantic structure of the Bible awarded the Distinguished Article Award from the American Sociological Association’s Religion Section

Mark Hoffman accepts the award at the 2018 ASA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia

Mark Hoffman accepts the award at the 2018 ASA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia

A paper written by Mark Anthony Hoffman, Jean-Philippe Cointet, Philipp Brandt, Newton Key and Peter Bearman to be published in Poetics has won the American Sociological Association’s Religion Section 2018 Distinguished Article Award. The award honors a peer-reviewed article that makes an outstanding contribution to the sociology of religion.

In the article, the authors reveal the semantic structure of the Protestant Bible by identifying certain topics. They begin by describing the organization of the Old and New Testaments, and then consider the uses of specific verses and sermons by Dissenters and Conformists. By mapping a semantic network of the Bible, the authors note a structure which highlights different contents reflecting denominations’ religious inspirations and concerns.

Release of Adam Reich and Peter Bearman’s new book, Working for Respect: Community and Conflict at Walmart


Working for Respect is an examination of the position of workers in places like Walmart in the struggle for economic and social justice. Reich and Bearman focus on the unique position of Walmart in the American workforce and what this model poses for the future of labor. One possible future which they discuss, Walmartism, looks at the ways that increasingly centralized control limits workers’ ability to control their working conditions and their lives.

By matching student activists with the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), Reich and Bearman pursue questions of collective identity, the role of traditional unions and the relationship between social ties and social change culminating in this book which stands as an important reflection on the development and future of the modern workplace.

The book is now available for pre-order.