“Gender Migration” by Dr. Caroline Brettell, Ruth Collins Altshuler Prof of Anthropology, director of the Interdisciplinary Institute

SMU Research

Originally Posted: October 13, 2016

Gender roles, relations, and ideologies are major aspects of migration. In a timely book on the subject, SMU anthropologist Caroline B. Brettell argues that understanding gender relations is vital to a full and more nuanced explanation of both the causes and the consequences of migration, in the past and at present.

Gender and Migration (Polity, 2016) explores gendered labor markets, laws and policies, and the transnational model of migration. With that, Brettell tackles a variety of issues such as how gender shapes the roles that men and women play in the construction of immigrant family and community life, debates concerning transnational motherhood, and how gender structures the immigrant experience for men and women more broadly.

“I have been working on the intersections of gender and migration since graduate school days and beginning with my dissertation research on Portuguese migrant women in France,” Brettell said. “Turning the lens of gender on population mobility reveals dimensions that might not otherwise be visible.”

Brettell is Ruth Collins Altshuler Professor of Anthropology and director of the Interdisciplinary Institute at Southern Methodist University.

The book will appeal to students and scholars of immigration, race and ethnicity, and gender studies and offers a definitive guide to the key conceptual issues surrounding gender and migration.

Anthropologist Brettell is an internationally recognized immigration expert on how the technology boom affects immigration, trends of new immigration gateway cities such as Dallas, Atlanta and Minneapolis and the challenges of women immigrants. Her research focus includes anthropology of Europe; migration and ethnicity; folk religion; and cross-cultural perspectives on gender.

An immigrant herself, Brettell was born in Canada and became a U.S. citizen in 1993. READ MORE

Trump’s scorched earth becomes new worry for Clinton World

The Hill

Originally Posted: October 14, 2016

The scorched-earth playbook employed by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is stirring alarm among allies of Hillary Clinton, with some fearing the negativity will depress turnout on Election Day.

Some Clinton supporters say they’re concerned that voters are nearly fed up with the constant accusations and name-calling that has defined the campaign.

“Of course there’s reason to worry, both about the ‘turn off’ effect or the impact if polling continues to show her leading by a wide margin,” one longtime Clinton adviser acknowledged on Thursday. “That, too, could lead some to stay home.”

The hostile atmosphere in the race has been worsening by the day.

In the past 48 hours, several women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct following reports of a tape in which the Republican nominee talks about grabbing women by the genitals. Protestors have been interrupting Clinton to accuse her husband of rape, after Trump brought women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to the second debate.

Trump is increasingly warning of a “conspiracy” that he says is being waged against him by the Republican Party, corporate interests and the mainstream media. And amid the chaos, there’s been a slow drip of emails from WikiLeaks that appear to detail the inner workings of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Another former Clinton aide added that while Trump’s comments have been “desperate,” there’s some cause for concern.

“In the final days of a presidential campaign, it’s something you have to worry about,” the source said.

Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, agreed, saying turnout fears are running high for candidates up and down ballot.

“I think every campaign from the two presidential campaigns on down are thinking about this, and rightly so, because this kind of conflict can raise the attention level and the interest level of people, but when you start hacking away into the enthusiasm, then that leads a lot of folks to just say, ‘I’m not going to bother at all,’” he said.

“The hardcore people will vote, but it’s the folks that are less attached that are going to be vulnerable to this.” READ MORE

SMU Presidential Politics Class Studies Unique Election Year


Originally Posted: October 12, 2016

Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, students fill the seats at SMU’s Presidential Elections in American Politics class.

“This year is probably the most unique election,” said Political Science Professor Dennis Simon.

The class is offered every few years. Students study past presidential elections, and the current one.

There is an emphasis on women; from the top of the ticket to the voters who will elect the next President of the United States.

“Clinton ran ads about Trump and women early on,” Simon explained. “Women’s turnout now exceeds men’s. There are now women of voting age in the U.S. and they give the Democrats an advantage.”

On Wednesday night, the last part of the class focused on women. Specifically what Donald Trump said about them in a leaked Access Hollywood tape.

“To listen to the remarks he’s made about women and think that people can still support him,” said SMU senior Helen Dunn and undecided voter.

“There’s just no way that he can win this election,” said SMU senior Andrew Baldridge, an Army veteran and undecided voter. “The numbers are just not in his favor.

An Atlantic poll shows the gender gap is wide.

Donald Trump leads among men by 11 points, but Hillary Clinton leads among women by 33 points.

“There will be other weird elections,” predicted Simon. “A lot can happen in four years.”  READ MORE


Research: Women hit harder by the pressures of elite academic science

SMU News

Originally Posted: October 12, 2016

We find that the fixed view of the ideal scientist has a significant impact on the ability of both women and men to stay in and succeed in academic science.” — Lincoln, Ecklund

Work life in academia might sound like a dream: summers off, year-long sabbaticals, the opportunity to switch between classroom teaching and research. Yet, when it comes to the sciences, life at the top U.S. research universities is hardly idyllic.

Based on surveys of over 2,000 junior and senior scientists, both male and female, as well as in-depth interviews, “Failing Families, Failing Science” examines how the rigors of a career in academic science makes it especially difficult to balance family and work.

SMU sociologist Anne Lincoln and Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund paint a nuanced picture that illuminates how gender, individual choices, and university and science infrastructures all play a role in shaping science careers, and how science careers, in turn, shape family life. They argue that both men and women face difficulties, though differently, in managing career and family.

“We spoke with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows about their professional and personal aspirations — their thoughts about entering academic science, as well as the struggles they face in trying to obtain an academic science position while starting a family,” write the authors. “We spoke with those who have ‘made it’ in science by obtaining positions as professors, asking them about the hardships they face as they try to balance devotion to work and family, and what kinds of strategies they use to overcome the difficulties. We also examined their potential to change the institutional infrastructure of science. Through our interviews, we were able to dig into some deeper issues.”

Numerous women the authors interviewed indicated they had to hide the fact they had children until they were confirmed for tenure, said the authors.

But they also found that family issues had an impact on career, and were a cause of concern, for men also.

” … many of those who are parents noted that their family commitments often negatively affect their opportunities for career advancement,” write the authors. “They say senior male scientists subtly and overtly sanction them for devoting themselves too much to their families — for example, criticizing them for not being fully devoted to their work when they take time off after the birth of a child.”

While women are hit harder by the pressures of elite academic science, the institution of science—and academic science, in particular—is not accommodating, possibly not even compatible, for either women or men who want to raise families.

Perhaps most importantly, their research reveals that early career academic scientists struggle considerably with balancing their work and family lives. This struggle may prevent these young scientists from pursuing positions at top research universities—or further pursuing academic science at all — a circumstance that comes at great cost to our national science infrastructure. — NYU Press. READ MORE

Lunch and Lecture by Tina Wasserman: “Beyond Brisket and Bagels: A Tour Of Jewish Food”

Event date: Wednesday, October 26
Location: Heroy Hall 153
Time: Noon-12:55 pm

Tina Wasserman, author of the acclaimed cookbook “Entree to Judaism A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora,” is a renown cooking instructor living in Dallas. Wasserman was elected in 1994 to Les Dames d’Escoffier, an International Culinary Society. She will discuss the history of Jewish food and its cultural significance. The talk includes lunch and a hands-on lesson in food art. RSVP by Oct. 20 to jewishstudies@smu.edu.

Link for more information: www.smu.edu/Dedman/academics/programs/jewishstudies/events


Cal Jillson, Political Science, provides historical precedent rivaling 2016’s nasty presidential campaign


Originally Posted: October 10, 2016

In a presidential debate that got more personal than perhaps any other debate before, the reviews are in.

On the WFAA Facebook page, viewer comments included people calling Clinton and Trump “two absolutely ridiculous candidates” who “both live in glass houses” in a “disgusting and appalling election” participating in a “pathetic” debate.

Has America ever seen anything like it?

“Probably not, in public,” said UT Arlington political science professor Allan Saxe. But he, along with a fellow debate-watching expert across town, reminded us of a couple of points of context.

“In the 19th century, there were very personal debates and campaigns,” said political science professor Cal Jillson at SMU.

Jillson pointed to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as an example. The year was 1800, Adams was running for re-election against Jefferson, his own vice-president.

Jefferson’s camp publicly described President Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character.” Adams’ camp responded by accusing Jefferson of fathering a mixed-race child with one of his slaves.

“We now know that that was true,” Jillson said of the accusation against Jefferson. “But that was considered to be a way-below-the-belt charge back in the day.”

And Saxe brought up another topic to consider, perhaps in Trump’s favor.

He said to think about President Harry Truman. While Saxe says Truman was a great president, he says Truman was not necessarily good with words in an off-the-cuff public debate.

“They viewed [Truman] as a man who was not prepared to be president. He was a politician,” Saxe said. “And, by the way, he could curse, too, a couple of times!”

But while each expert downplayed the outlandishness of the latest debate, they agreed on two things: Trump is way behind in the polls.

“He solidified his base of 40 percent, but he didn’t grow it at all,” Jillson said. “And 40 percent doesn’t win you a presidential election.”

They also agreed debate No. 3 should be a doozy.

“On Oct. 19, it could be wilder than the second one,” Saxe said.


Archaeologist Meltzer Discusses First People in New World

Hamilton College News

Originally Posted: October 5, 2016

Students and faculty nearly filled the Kennedy Auditorium to hear Southern Methodist  University  anthropology professor and archaeologist David J. Meltzer give a talk titled, “The Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas: What We Know, Don’t Know and Argue About Endlessly.”  Morris, the Morris Fellow Visiting Speaker lectured on Oct. 4.

With insight, clarity and even some humor, Meltzer discussed issues surrounding the people of the Americas, drawing on both archaeological and genetic data to guide the audience through competing theories meant to answer persistent ruminations about Pleistocene people. Early in the lecture, he posed a few questions, including but not limited to: “Who were the first Americans?” and “Where did they come from?”

Initially, archaeologists were skeptical that people could have come to the New World before Clovis times. While Meltzer was sincere in conceding that there is much we still do not know because of insufficient data, he asserted, “What we do know is that Clovis is really the first significant presence in the New World, which does not preclude the possibility that people came earlier.”

In order to arrive at this conclusion, Meltzer suggested that archaeological evidence and genetic evidence complemented each other. Inferences from mutation rates, for example, show that people have been present in the New World before Clovis times. But, for Meltzer, “this is a problematic inference to make.” Although “genetics tells a huge part of the story,” he cautioned, to confirm this theory, “we needed an archaeological site,” which was eventually obtained with the discovery of the Monte Verde site in southern Chile.

Throughout his lecture, Meltzer also examined persuasive evidence to support the following additional findings: the archaeological community is “reasonably confident” that the first Americans came from Asia and finds it “very unlikely” that large mammals like mammoths were hunted to extinction by the Pleistocene people who migrated to North America. Rather, while the introduction of people to North America was accompanied by the extinction of over 30 genera, this is largely coincidental.

Thanks to his highly informative talk, audience members walked away with a better understanding of the current status of Pleistocene research as well as our own human ancestors, who came to this continent well over 10,000 years ago.

Meltzer received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle, ultimately earning degrees in both anthropology and archaeology. Since then, the results of his research have been published in over 150 publications; some of his published books include The Great Paleolithic War: How Science Forged an Understanding of America’s Ice Age Past, First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America and Folsom: New Archaeological Investigations. READ MORE

Listen: Ed Countryman, History, on ‘The Birth Of A Nation’

KERA, Art and Seek

Originally Posted: October 6, 2016

The “Birth of a Nation” looks at the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner. The film is generating serious awards buzz, as well as controversy. This week, we focus on the historical events that inspired the movie with Edward Countryman, an SMU professor who specializes in American history. LISTEN