Letter from the chair, Summer 2019

Originally published in Section Culture: Newsletter of the ASA Culture Section. Summer 2019. Vol. 31 Issue 1.

Image result for omar lizardoIn a few short weeks, we will all convene in New York City for our annual meeting. The manifest purpose is to share ongoing work with colleagues, create and restore professional networks, and further our various intellectual projects. However, as Durkheim once noted, regular commemorative gatherings such as these produce several other, no less significant for being less noticeable, effects. They restore our sense of belonging to a broader cognitive community, recharge intellectual and emotional energies, and help us recommit ourselves to our individual work while reminding us to recognize how it links up to a broader mission. These two aims are, of course, not mutually exclusive, but should not let the more obvious, instrumental ones make us lose sight of the more meaningful effects our annual coming together generates. 

Our chair-elect, Allison Pugh, has organized an incredibly stimulating and intellectually diverse program, spread over two days on Monday, August 12 and Tuesday, August 13. The program schedule begins, appropriately enough, with a thematic session dealing with “Culture and its Impacts on Other Subfields” organized by Greggor Mattson and featuring a fantastic lineup of speakers all known for bringing insights from cultural sociology and cultural analysis more broadly across disciplinary boundaries. This should be of interest for all scholars, whether young or established, who are interested in doing more of this critical work (or doing what they are already doing more effectively). The program continues with our graduate student workshop organized by Joanna Pepin and Andre Riesman. This is an invited panel on “Collecting, Analyzing, and Sharing Cultural Sociology,” featuring some of the best emerging minds in the field, known for their penchant to study culture across a wide variety of methodological strategies. Methodological diversity is a signature strength of our subfield, and this panel is a way for young scholars in cultural sociology to become familiar with the type of creative cross-fertilization across strategies of inquiry. Our roundtables, featuring the usual thematic diversity of cultural analysis in sociology round out Monday activities. Tuesday follows with our section sessions, featuring four panels (two of which cosponsored) in which the theme of crossing the boundary between cultural sociology and other subfields is put in practice. This includes a session on Global and Transnational Approaches to Culture and Power (Cosponsored with the Section on Global and Transnational Sociology and organized by Chinyere Osuji), a session on Algorithmic Cultures (organized by Angèle Christin), a session on Culture, Racialization and Intersectionality (Cosponsored with the Section on Race, Gender, and Class and organized by Michael Jeffries), and  a session on Culture and Service Work: Relationships, Identities, Inequalities (organized by Eileen M. Otis). 

This is my last “Letter From the Chair,” as I will pass the baton to Allison at the conclusion of our business meeting in New York. This is scheduled for Monday at 3:30p right between the graduate student workshop and the roundtables. I encourage all of you to attend, congratulate our section award winners, share your ideas for future section activities. I would also like to congratulate the winners of our recent election: Terence McDonnell (Chair-Elect), Mariana Craciun and Mathieu Desan (Council Members), and Samantha Leonard (Graduate Student Representative). I would like to thank our Chief Operating Officer Ruthie Braunstein, whose hard work keeps the section going, the current members of the Section Council, as well as our Newsletter and Website Editors, Diana Graizbord, Hillary Angelo, and Michael Rodriguez-Muñiz, and Dustin Stoltz for all of their help and patience. 

It has been my pleasure and honor to serve as section chair for the past year. I look forward to seeing and sharing intellectual currents with you in our annual ritual in New York this year. In closing, and in the service of that very end, this year we will be teaming up with our friends in the Theory and History of Sociology sections for a joint off-site reception. Set your Google Maps to Papillon Bistro and Bar (22 E 54th Street, New York) and your calendars for Monday, August 12, at 6:30p. Huge thanks to Dr. Allisa Boguslaw for her tireless efforts as our local asset in researching and help us choose a site for the reception, and to Marion Fourcade, Iddo Tavory, John Mohr, and Jill Brantley, for their willingness to coordinate on the other side. 

Omar Lizardo,