Expected CompletionSpring 2016
Curriculum vitae (PDF)
Dissertation TitleDressed for the Party: Fashion and Politics in Socialist Cuba (1976-1985)
Dissertation Abstract“Dressed for the Party: Fashion and Politics in Socialist Cuba,” documents the history of fashion in socialist Cuba and explores the mutual influences between the material and political orders. It is oriented to understand the ways in which fashion and the political sphere have affected each other in socialist Cuba, creating subplots of meaning organized around Cubans’ permanent search for modernity, equality, and national identity. “Dressed for the Party…” explores how political meanings are imbued into clothes, and material culture in general, by regimes of power and social groups, and how these political meanings may also spontaneously emerge in everyday sartorial practices. It also explores how fashion became, at key moments, a highly significant political issue.
“Dressed for the Party…” shares theoretical grounds with the material culture studies of Eastern European state socialist regimes, even though a comparative study is not undertaken. Instead, the case of Cuba is incorporated into the most recent analyses of the politics of material culture in state socialist regimes, contributing to this area with insights of this particular case. My exploration of the relationship between clothing and politics in socialist Cuba, like the most recent studies of Soviet Bloc socialism, moves beyond the simple assertion that the gap between the discursive utopia of abundance and equality and a reality of scarcity and social differences undermined the legitimacy of the state socialist regimes. For the same reason, it also avoids over-stressing the effects of state policies on society. Inspired by the new avenues of research opened by the recent studies of state socialism, “Dressed for the Party…” pays attention to hybrid dynamics between state and society that coalesced for both sustaining and destabilizing the Cuban state socialist regime and its socialist ideology. Doing this, my dissertation may help to explain why, in spite of being reproduced in Cuba many material dynamics of the Soviet Bloc, the Cuban regime did not collapse when its Eastern European allies did and the USSR disintegrated.
Research Interestsmaterial culture, Latin America, state socialism, Cuba, sociology of culture
Teaching Assistant (graduate and undergraduate level) at Parsons, The New School for Design (2011, 2013). Lecturer at the University of Havana (2002)
ProfileI am a Cuban-born PhD candidate in sociology and author of the blog Cuba Material, conceived as an archive of objects and practices of material culture in Cuba, with a strong emphasis in the socialist period. In Cuba, I worked for the National Bureau of Industrial Design, doing research on the history of design in the country, and in my academic research I am interested in connecting disciplinary, chronological, and geographical boundaries. I look forward to continuing to bridge disciplines, historical periods, and geographies in my future scholarship. I deeply value my current intellectual exchanges with Latin American and Eastern European scholars, and in my subsequent work I will continue to seek collaboration with them.
2015 “Pañoletas y polainas. Dinámicas de la moda en la Cuba soviética.” Kamchatka. 5 (forthcoming). Monographic number. Invited submission.
“Cuba’s Socialist Utopia: A Material Culture Perspective.” In Utopian Visions in Latin America, edited by Sandra Brunnegger and Jason Pribilsky. Publication expected in 2015. Invited submission.
“Historicizing Fashion in the Revolutionary 1960s.” In New Histories of the Cuban Revolution, edited by Jennifer Lambe and Michel Bustamante. Work-in-progress. Publication expected in 2015. Invited submission.
“Politics and Industrial Design in Cuba: ONDI and ICIODI.” Invited submission to Raisons Politiques. Work-in-progress. Publication expected in 2016.
“Fashioning Politics in Socialist Cuba: A Material Culture Approach to the 1960s.” Manuscript submitted to Sociological Theory.
Expected CompletionFall 2014
Dissertation TitleThe Social Interface: Technology Beyond Production, Consumption, and Mediation
Dissertation AbstractMuch of what we take to be human interaction today is—in fact—human-to-device interaction. Machines increasingly participate in and shape social activity in active, elaborate, and contextually-inflected ways, relying on a large and growing body of social and cultural data to do so. This pursuit of the social machine—and its particular design ethos in the present—are not naïve conceits. Works in the field of human-computer interaction and the sociological oeuvre of Harold Garfinkel draw a direct line from classical threads of sociology and philosophy to key aspects of computer engineering in the present.
For this reason, present technologies increasingly inhabit the social world alongside human counterparts, a capability that proceeds from their effective embodiment—an increasing ability to sense and to make sense of the world around them. While researchers wonder what is to be done with the “big data” that their operation engenders, populations of people and devices are increasingly generating such data—indeed, living it as embodied agents—in unimaginable quantities.
The human and social sciences remain key to understanding both society and contemporary technology as well, but empirical and theoretical innovation are needed if we are to accurately describe and understand this social-technological complex. One such innovation is proposed: the social interface, an analytical construct that echoes but supersedes that of the user interface. The social interface is the site at and through which social phenomena and technological phenomena become inseparable from and immanent to one another in identity and in operation.
Areas of expertise
new media, technology, big data, culture, theory
ProfileMy academic, professional, and teaching work have long focused on bridging the gap between the formal and technical characteristics of new media, technology engineering, and data science and their social, cultural, and interactive dimensions. These phenomena, like other epochal media forms, are integral to a particular way of being-in-the-world, and are deeply implicated in everyday life, expression, and action. I began academic life as an unusually young computer science major before earning degrees in English, cultural anthropology, interdisciplinary social science, and now, sociology—all the while working outside the academy in technology, media research, and big data startups.
Teaching StatementI have accumulated thousands of hours of sole-instructor teaching experience over the last decade at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with class sizes ranging from five to over 150 students. Institutions include The New School, New York University, the City University of New York, Utah Valley University, St. John's University, and Iona College. My interdisciplinary outlook has led me to teach a varied bevy of courses, including courses in design innovation, media studies, media and social history, theory and criticism, and urban sociology and deviance.
Expected CompletionSpring 2017
"Marriage Hunting": Singlehood in Precarious Japan
This dissertation, which is situated at the intersection of cultural and economic sociology, is a qualitative study of Japan’s contemporary singles that participate in the now-prevalent “marriage hunting” (konkatsu) market. Based upon ethnographic research that includes in-depth interviews and participant observations at meet-up venues throughout the Tokyo metropolitan area, my project adds a nuanced and subjective dimension to hitherto established structural analyses of the “lack of encounters with suitable partners,” which singles point to as the greatest cause of their singlehood. The Japanese singles’ narratives reveal a significant cultural lag and gendered anomie caused by the drastically changed workplace that had nurtured relationship formation as well as altered gendered realities triggered by the sharp economic downturn that occurred in the early 1990s. These were two unanticipated outcomes of Japan’s “lost decades” that dramatically changed Japan’s economic system from one that was embedded in social institutions of trust and long-term relationships to one that embraced the financial globalization model of deregulation and restructuring of the labor market, consequently altering the social fabric of human connectivity. Policy implications include the necessity to shift the current federal focus that is on marriage assistance to broader labor market changes and structural gender equality.
Sociology of culture, Economic sociology, Urban studies, Globalization/Global Studies, East Asia, Gender
Japanese Singlehood: Doing Gender in a State of Anomie
I am in A.B.D. status in Sociology at The New School for Social Research. My PhD Dissertation defense date is scheduled for March 10, 2017. I am bi-cultural and bi-lingual (Japan/U.S.) and have also studied in Shanghai, China (Mandarin language level: conversant).
My professional experience includes independent interdisciplinary teaching experience across three undergraduate institutions (Hofstra University, State University of New York at Old Westbury, and Eugene Lang College), where I have developed and instructed the following courses: Comparative Cultures, Analysis of Cultures, Religion and Meaning in a Globalizing World, Comparative Religions, Eastern Religious Traditions, and Living Buddhism. Throughout my teaching career, I have received outstanding student and peer evaluations. My courses have bred rigorous dialogue both within and outside of the classroom by utilizing small-group dynamics within large classes alongside virtual platforms for online discussion. I am experienced in encouraging collaborative inquiry within diverse learning environments due to having engaged with course demographics that consisted of predominantly non-white, working-class students, as well as mixed-level and mixed-field students. I have personally mentored and advised over thirty students on their honors theses, senior projects, graduate school applications, and campus clubs, one of which I was an advisor for at Hofstra University. Finally, I inadvertently draw upon my own multi-cultural background and identity when guiding my students to become reflexive, socially-conscious learners.
Academia.edu ProfileAcademia Profile
Nations as Destinations: Analyzing Tourist Source-Markets as Local Fields of Global Production
My dissertation Nations as Destinations: Analyzing Tourist Source-Markets as Local Fields of Global Production reframes nation-states as global organizations instead of local, bordered territories. This contribution to sociological theories of globalization is based on the qualitative case-study of national destination marketing in tourism exploring how nation-states emerge as both actors and objects of global circulation. I analyze the globally expanding organizational infrastructures that nation-states develop to compete for such flows. In the case of tourism, these global infrastructures are state-funded marketing agencies, the National Tourist Offices (NTOs). The German NTO has branches in New Delhi for the Indian source-market and in New York for the US-source-market, for example. I studied the marketing activities of 45 nation-states in two such source-markets, in India and in the USA. Employing mixed qualitative methods of interviewing, participant observation and discourse analysis, I analyze how NTOs cooperate with the local travel media and industry to make the destination visible for the potential tourist (in newspaper articles, tour packages, etc.). These professional interactions constitute the empirical core of my dissertation, as they play a crucial role in the translation of nation-states into destinations through the language of value and desires for external audiences (i.e. tourists). I argue that citizenship and belonging here become re-framed through a dual process of externalization and expansion of the nation-state, subsuming its cultural production to external evaluations of economic utility, as: 1.) Professional claims for expertise from across the nation-state’s organizational boundaries emerge as critical challenges to national sovereignty and authority; 2.) The global organization of the nation-state incorporates a myriad of so-called stakeholders (such as the international travel industry), who participate in the construction of the tourist destination. My dissertation addresses the central sociological problem of the bounding and distinction of societies through specific socio-economic and cultural institutions, i.e. the organization of the nation and the state as part of expanding global circulation.
Economic Sociology, Globalization, Culture, Organizations/Professions, Media
I am a PhD candidate in Sociology at the New School for Social Research. I further hold a Magister degree in Political Science from the Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen (Germany). My research focuses on the contingent practices that take place across organizational and professional boundaries. These boundaries are crucial sites for sociological inquiry into the complex and encompassing processes of the transformation of macro-level socio-economic, civic, and political institutions. As I draw from and contribute to theories and approaches of economic sociology, organizational sociology and the sociology of culture, my current research focuses specifically on processes of globalization and economization in relation to the nation-state and the media. While these qualitative case-studies analyze particular institutions, they explore larger sociological problems such as how these processes of professional rationalization and standardization limit and reduce cultural as well as social diversity; and how they restrict participation and representation to a few privileged actors.
“Becoming Entrepreneurial: Crisis, Ethics and Marketization in the Field of Travel Journalism.” In: Poetics 54 (2016): 54-65.
I currently have five years of teaching experience at the New School for Social Research, Queens College (CUNY) and Parsons The New School for Design. I have taught at these institutions undergraduate courses from Introduction to Sociology, to sociological inquiry as well as the social theory of globalization to undergraduate design students. Further I have lead several class sections in Classical Sociological Theory for MA/PhD-students.
Department of Sociology
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