Performance and Populism:
The following is a version of the comments I shared in response to Adam Slez and Isaac Ariail Reed’s presentations during the February 25th meeting of Comparative Historical Analysis and Theory (CHAT). Their presentations were based on their recent books, and a recording of the event can be found here: https://comparativehistorical.org/events/past-events/. I am grateful to both for the opportunity, and for their engagement with my comments. What I tried to do, through my comments, was to read each book through the prism of the other.
Demar F. Lewis IV is a PhD Candidate in Sociology & African American Studies at Yale University. He recently received an Honorable Mention for the 2021 ASA Theory Section’s Best Graduate Student Paper Award for his paper “Troubling America’s Historical Waters: Towards the Transdisciplinary Study of U.S. Lynchings as an Active Present.” Currently, Demar is a member of Cohort 3 of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Policy Research Scholars Program and the Spencer Cohort of the Institute for Critical, Quantitative, Computational, & Mixed Methodologies.
The Making of Racial Hierarchies
An Interview with Stefan Timmermans and Iddo Tavory
Perspectives Editors interviewed Stefan Timmermans and Iddo Tavory to discuss their recently published article “Racist Encounters: A Pragmatist Semiotic Analysis of Interaction” in Sociological Theory. Timmermans and Tavory develop a pragmatist semiotic approach to analyzing racial interactions, and specifically focus on how racial hierarchies are constituted or resisted in interactions.
Theory Spotlight: Sourabh Singh
Sourabh Singh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the Florida State University, Tallahassee. He specializes in the areas of Political Sociology, Sociological Theory, Comparative and Historical Sociology, and Culture. His work has been published in Sociological Theory, Theory and Society, Philosophy of Social Sciences, Journal of the Theory of Social Behavior, and Journal of Critical Realism. He teaches courses on Sociological Theory and Political Sociology.
I study a major transformation that occurred over last three decades. Now, every day, as we open our computers and phones we interact with and through machine learning. I ask why machine learning has spread since the mid 1990s across retail, finance, love, security, music, healthcare, manufacturing, and other institutions. Machine learning is a category of algorithms that “learn by themselves.” Programmers need relatively little a priori knowledge about the substantive domain. Instead, programmers decide over which model to use and how to adjust the model to the data based on the model’s predictive accuracy.
My dissertation, How Science Produces Institutions: The Practice and Politics of Genome Editing, examines the social, scientific, and political struggles being waged over the revolutionary genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9. With over 20 clinical trials for treating genetic diseases with CRISPR underway, stakeholders continue to debate issues of equity, racial justice, ethics, and ableism surrounding the modification of human DNA. I reframe these struggles theoretically as a problem of institutionalization: How is the idea and discourse of genome editing rendered into a durable set of practices that become legitimated and taken for granted? To answer this question, I draw from participant observation, in-depth interviews, and archival research to trace the trajectory of scientific practices as they move from the laboratory to the clinic and interrogate the sites at which decisions are made about the ethics, safety, and priorities of genome editing.
2021 ASA Theory Section Awards
Junior Theorists Symposium
15th Annual Junior Theorists Symposium
FALL 2022 Content
Letter from the Chair: "Theory as Translation"
"An Interview with Jordanna Matlon, author of A Man Among Other Men"
Book Symposium on A Man Among Other Men by Jordanna Matlon
Colonialism, Modernity and the Canon: An Interview with Gurminder K. Bhambra
Emerging Social Theorists Spotlight