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Kaye Studies Addiction and Criminal Justice, Male Prostitution

Kerwin Kaye at Wesleyan University. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Assistant Professor of Sociology Kerwin Kaye is teaching courses this year on sociology of crime and punishment, sociological theory, and sociology of sexualities.

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Professor Kaye! Please catch us up on your life up to the present.

A: I grew up in Denver, Colo., and yes, I did learn to ski. My academic interests have transformed significantly, given that I began my university education with the idea of double-majoring in physics and philosophy. I wound up at CU-Boulder working on a crisis hotline and obtaining a BA in psychology. After that I moved to San Francisco, pursuing an MA in anthropology at San Francisco State University, where I conducted ethnographic research on male street prostitution. In 2001, I moved to the East Coast, obtaining a Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. My master’s work concerning street prostitution pressed me toward the issue of drug use (nearly everyone on the street was using drugs of some sort), and also towards the question of institutional responses to street poverty. For my doctoral dissertation, I did a participant-observational study of drug courts and drug treatment within the criminal justice system (topics that brought me closer to some of the core issues and methodologies of sociology as a discipline). I still retain interests in physics and philosophy, and am grateful to have been exposed to a variety of intellectual traditions.

Q: How did you come to teach at Wesleyan? Is it true that you were previously a visiting professor here?

A: I was indeed a visiting professor here four years ago, and enjoyed the experience enormously. At the risk of pandering, I’d have to say that the enthusiasm and intelligence of the students here were huge factors that made me want to return.

Q: Please describe your research interests.

A: At present I am engaged in three projects. My primary project involves reworking my dissertation on drug courts and turning it into a book (tentatively titled “Using Drugs” and to be published in the Public Criminology series with Columbia University Press). I am also collaborating with about a dozen other scholars on a group research project in which we are attempting to reflect upon our individual projects in developing a larger framework concerning the direction of gender and sexuality within the contemporary economic environment. I also just finished writing a paper about the exclusion of men and boys from the sex trafficking discourse, using the exclusion of men as a way to talk about the narrowly gendered vision of “sex trafficking” as a frame, and arguing that a less melodramatic vision of the challenges faced by sex workers is needed. There are simply very few people who need to be rescued from sex traffickers, and prioritizing “sex trafficking” makes the important issues we should actually be confronting practically invisible.

Q: I see you’ve published a number of papers on male prostitution. How did you become interested in this subject, and what specifically did you study?

A: I had been interested in the politics of sex work for some time, and saw that most of the debates centered around street prostitution (just as today they focus on “sex trafficking”). I wanted to develop a better understanding as to what was happening on the street, so I began what turned into a year’s worth of ethnographic study, living for a short time in one of the local hotels used by the street workers, but mostly working through a small harm reduction agency in the area that handed out food, clothes, condoms, and needles for injecting drugs. My research focused specifically on the non-sexual aspects of street prostitution – I was curious about the everyday lives that people were living more than the sex as such. Basically, it was something of a crash course in issues of urban poverty among street populations. To me, the issue of street prostitution must be understood within that broader context rather than having the issue of sex narrowly define the questions.

Q: You’ve also written about addiction and criminal justice. Please describe your research in this area.

A: I conducted more than a year’s worth of ethnographic study looking at the way “drug courts” work (people avoid jail time by undergoing drug treatment that is supervised by these courts). I especially focused on the treatment centers that the courts send people to, a topic where there’s been very little research. I began by looking at the way that “addiction” gets defined by the various people and organizations involved: How do you know if someone is getting “better” if they’re living in a treatment center and are not presently using drugs? Do the different agencies agree upon a common vision of addiction and of treatment, and how do the people going through the programs understand these issues? Over time, I saw many practices at the treatment centers that I thought were very abusive. Apparently getting better from addiction requires being yelled at and shamed a great deal — to me it seemed that “tough love” is more tough than loving. More than that, I saw that “addiction” was being defined in terms of classed and gendered behaviors. Basically, the move from “addiction” to “sobriety” was defined as a shift from the street-oriented hustling that I had seen in the male prostitution study into normative forms of work, sex, and family life. In terms of employment, people were made to subordinate themselves within the lowest strata of the formal economy as a sign of sobriety; this included explicit instruction in how to accept abusive behavior from one’s boss, and how to emotionally cope with the tedium of much low-wage labor. Behaviors associated with the improvisational and often dangerous nature of street life were shamed as unworthy parts of a “drugs lifestyle” while acceptance of labor market injustices was defined as “emotional maturity.” Some of the people going through the program were glad to have a chance to get included in mainstream life, even at the bottom, but others thought the treatment center was simply another type of prison. And no one liked being yelled at and shamed by the staff.

Q: Please tell us about the courses you’re teaching this semester. What do you plan to teach in the future?

A: This semester I am teaching Introduction to Sociology and Sociology of Crime and Punishment. Next semester I’ll be teaching Sociological Theory and Sociology of Sexualities. I’m still thinking about what I might teach next year, but perhaps a course specifically on Critical Social Theories. At some point I will no doubt offer a course on drugs and addiction as well….

Q: How would you describe your teaching style?

A: I approach my classes with limited amounts of lecture and a greater focus on discussion. I usually have an agenda regarding a few points that I want to make sure get made during the class, but beyond that I much prefer open-ended conversations that take us to unexpected places in addressing student concerns. There are usually a few movies or videos thrown in for good measure as well…

Q: What are you most looking forward to about working at Wesleyan?

A: I am very happy to be here. My colleagues are great, and the students are even better! I especially appreciate the classroom dynamics that can get established when students are already interested in a topic and are essentially demanding that I teach them everything I know – it’s hardly an environment in which I confront a classroom of passive and bored students!

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A: Walks and hikes in nature are perennial favorite activities for me. And, though geeky, I admit to also being an aficionado of science fiction.

WESU Seeking Donations for Fall Record Fair Oct. 26

Hundreds of vinyl records and CDs will be for sale during the WESU 88.1 FM Fall Record Fair.

Hundreds of vinyl records and CDs will be for sale during the WESU 88.1 FM Fall Record Fair.

WESU 88.1 FM will host a Fall Record Fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 26 in Beckham Hall.

Dozens of vendors from across the Northeast will be selling vinyl records, CDs, posters, T-shirts and more. WESU DJs will sell WESU gear and records to support the station. The station also is seeking donations to be sold at the event.

“Cleaning out your shelves but can’t make it to the event? Please consider donating your records for WESU to sell to aid in our fundraising efforts,” said WESU member Tess Altman ’17. “Come support the station and invite your friends! Why? You can’t scratch an MP3.”

Interview, Paper by Smolkin-Rothrock, Fusso Focuses on Russian Atheist

Wesleyan faculty Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock and Susanne Fusso are the co-authors of “The Confession of an Atheist Who Became a Scholar of Religion,” published in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Volume 15, Number 3, Summer 2014. The paper is based on an interview Smolkin-Rothrock completed on Russian atheist Nikolai Semenovich Gordienko.

Smolkin-Rothrock is assistant professor of history; assistant professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies; Faculty Fellow Center for the Humanities; and tutor in the College of Social Studies. Fusso is professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies.

Among the most prominent professors of “scientific atheism” in the Soviet Union, Gordienko also was the author of the Foundations of Scientific Atheism textbook and a consultant to the political elite on religious questions. Over the course of his life, he was connected with every institution that managed Soviet spiritual life in both its religious and atheist variants. Read the paper’s abstract online here.

Conn. Governor’s Race Sets Record in Negative Ads

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, spoke to WNPR about the Connecticut governor’s race, which has emerged as the most negative in the country.

“We do tend to see movement in polls due to negativity,” she said. “The reason why you continue to see lots of negative [ads] is because people do seem to respond to them.”

“Foley and his allies are going after Malloy for being a career politician. For higher taxes that hurt the middle class,” Fowler said. “Whereas Democratic groups and Malloy are going after Foley for tax breaks for millionaires. For being anti-worker for not caring about the average citizen.”

Fowler said negative ads — and TV advertising in general — is generally targeted toward undecided voters and she said, “Negativity isn’t always bad. In a world where citizens don’t always pay a lot of attention to politics, a negative ad that induces a little bit of fear and therefore some information seeking, can actually be a good thing.”

The Wesleyan Media Project analyzes campaign ad spending in all U.S. Senate, House and gubernatorial races. More than 100 articles in major news outlets have cited the project’s research this election season. Other recent highlights include an interview with Fowler on Fox News, stories on NPR and Politico, and in The New York TimesThe Christian Science Monitor, CBS News, USA Todayand The Wall Street Journal.

Gruen on Killing ‘Excalibur’

Lori Gruen, chair and professor of philosophy, professor of environmental studies, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, writes in Time about the decision in Spain to kill a dog named Excalibur, who lived with a nurse exposed to Ebola.

Neither the dog, nor the nurse’s husband, who was put under monitoring, showed any signs of the virus, writes Gruen. Moreover, experts say there is no evidence to support the notion that dogs can transmit Ebola. Gruen writes:

The right thing to do would have been to isolate Excalibur and observe him, as was done to others who had been in contact with Teresa. But Spanish authorities weren’t thinking of Excalibur’s life as valuable or of how devastating his death would be to his family. They were thinking about what was expedient.

Many consider dogs, like most animals, disposable. Animal lives are thought to be worth less than those of humans. Rather than spend money or energy isolating a dog, it was easier, Spanish authorities decided, to kill him. And given how long it took the hospital to admit Teresa, it was unlikely they were simply acting with the utmost caution when it came to Excalibur. In the U.S., more than one million dogs are euthanized each year, dogs that are inconvenient or unwanted are routinely disposed of.

The routine killing of animals diminishes not only their lives, but the toll that choosing euthanasia takes on people who live with and love animals.

Staff on the Move, September 2014

The Office of Human Resources reported the following new hires and departures for September 2014:

Newly hired
Janani Iyer was hired as a research assistant/lab coordinator in the Psychology Department on Sept. 2.
Ilona Bass was hired as a research assistant/lab coordinator in the Psychology Department on Sept. 2.
Paul Wilson Cauley was hired as a researcher in the Astronomy Department on Sept. 8.
Franklin Huynh was hired as a senior budget analyst in the Office of Financial Planning on Sept. 15.
Michael Schramm was hired as assistant director of the Wesleyan Fund on Sept. 15.
Luigi Solla was hired an associate director of admission for the Office of Admission on Sept. 22.

Transitions
Thomas Diascro was hired as director of alumni and parent relations for University Relations on Sept. 8.

Departures
Rani Arbo, fellow in the College of the Environment.
Christopher Andrews, senior budget analyst in the Office of Financial Planning.
Linnea Benton, library assistant in Olin Library.
Edward Chiburis, facility and events manager for Memorial Chapel/ ’92 Theater.

Wesleyan, City Officials Sign Memorandum of Understanding

On Oct. 15, Wesleyan and City of Middletown officials met at City Hall in downtown Middletown to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on dealing with sexual assault.

The document details the responsibilities and procedures of the university, the city, and state law enforcement in handling assault cases. This document officially codifies long-standing campus and community cooperation around the issue of crime, sharing of training resources, and enhanced communication designed to support survivors of sexual assault.

On Oct. 15, Wesleyan and City of Middletown officials met at City Hall in downtown Middletown to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on dealing with sexual assault. The document details the responsibilities and procedures of the university, the city, and state law enforcement in handling assault cases. This document officially codifies long-standing campus and community cooperation around the issue of crime,  sharing of training resources, and enhanced communication designed to support survivors of sexual assault. Pictured from left, signing the document are Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney for Middlesex County Peter McShane; Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Wesleyan President Michael Roth. Absent but also instrumental in the development of the MOU is Middletown General Counsel Brig Smith.

Pictured from left, signing the Memorandum of Understanding, are Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney for Middlesex County Peter McShane; Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Wesleyan President Michael Roth. Absent but also instrumental in the development of the MOU is Middletown General Counsel Brig Smith.

Participants included: Front row, from left, Peter McShane; Mayor Dan Drew and President Michael Roth. Back row, from left, General Counsel and Secretary of the University David Winakor; Director of Public Safety Scott Rodhe; Therapist/Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator Alysha Warren; Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer Antonio Farias; Middletown Police Chief William McKenna and Middletown Police Deputy Chief Michael Timbro.

Participants included: Front row, from left, Peter McShane; Mayor Dan Drew and President Michael Roth. Back row, from left, General Counsel and Secretary of the University David Winakor; Director of Public Safety Scott Rohde; Therapist/Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator Alysha Warren; Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer Antonio Farias; Middletown Police Chief William McKenna and Middletown Police Deputy Chief Michael Timbro. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In addition, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., came to Wesleyan Oct. 6 to hear students’ concerns about sexual violence, survivor support and penalties for perpetrators. In his discussions with students he shared details of legislation he has proposed to provide better frameworks on campuses for handling sexual assault cases. Read more in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

Twagira’s Paper on Cosmopolitan Workers Published in Gender & History

coverLaura Ann Twagira, assistant professor of history, is the author of an article titled, “‘Robot Farmers’ and Cosmopolitan Workers: Technological Masculinity and Agricultural Development in the French Soudan (Mali), 1945–68,” published in the November issue of Gender & History, Volume 26, Issue 3, pages 459-477.

In 1956, Administrator Ancian, a French government official, suggested in a confidential report that one of the most ambitious agricultural schemes in French West Africa, the Office du Niger, had been misguided in its planning to produce only a ‘robot farmer’. The robot metaphor was drawn from the intense association between the project and technology. However, it was a critical analogy suggesting alienation. By using the word ‘robot’, Ancian implied that, rather than developing the project with the economic and social needs of the individual farmer in mind, the colonial Office du Niger was designed so that indistinguishable labourers would follow the dictates of a strictly regulated agricultural calendar. In effect, farmers were meant simply to become part of a larger agricultural machine, albeit a machine of French design. Read the full article, online here.

Crimea, Tatar Rights Explored at Panel Discussion, Multimedia Performance

Wesleyan will present "To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars" Oct. 24. The event includes a panel discussion, faculty dance concert/multimedia presentation and reception.

Wesleyan will present “To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars” Oct. 24. The event includes a panel discussion, faculty dance concert/multimedia presentation and reception.

 

On Oct. 24, the Dance Department and Center for the Arts present “To Not Forget Crimea: Uncertain Quiet of Indigenous Crimean Tatars,” a panel discussion and the Fall Faculty Dance Concert by Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio.

While international media and political leaders are ignoring the situation in Crimea, this event draws public attention to the widespread violation of the Tatars’ human rights and the degree to which the Russian Occupation has forced them out of their ancestral homeland.

The evening will begin with a free panel discussion, “Indigenous Ukrainian Perspectives of Crimea Post Russian-Invasion,” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Fayerweather Beckham Hall. The discussion will revolve around the current situation in Crimea, the quest for indigenous status by its Tatar population, and the movement for Tatar rights under Mustafa Jemilev, which through non-violence and interfaith collaboration offers an inspiring model for other oppressed peoples.

The event will be live streamed; see here for information and the live stream link.

Panelists will include Arsen Zhumadilov, founder and chairman of the Crimean Institute for Strategic Studies; Ayla Bakkalli, United States representative of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and Greta Uehling, lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Program in International and Comparative Studies, and author of Beyond Memory: The Crimean Tatars’ Deportation and Return.

Wesleyan Battles for Homecoming Victory Against Amherst Oct. 18

Wesleyan student-athlete Jesse Warren '15 will start as quarterback in the Homecoming Day game, Oct. 18 against Amherst College. Warren leads the conference in passing efficiency (154.9) and has a league-best seven touch down tosses while throwing no interceptions. (Photo by Brian Katten)

Wesleyan student-athlete Jesse Warren ’15 will start as quarterback in the Homecoming Day game, Oct. 18 against Amherst College. Warren leads the conference in passing efficiency (154.9) and has a league-best seven touch down tosses while throwing no interceptions. (Photo by Brian Katten)

It’s a long rivalry. Wesleyan and Amherst have played nearly every year since 1913, missing just three seasons during World War II. They first met on the gridiron in 1882,  with Wesleyan prevailing.  The teams will battle for the 120th time during Wesleyan’s Homecoming, Oct. 18.

A webcast of the game is available here.

One aspect of the game is unmistaken. It represents the second straight year both teams bring identical 4-0 records into the encounter.

A Wesleyan triumph would add significant historical perspective to the proceedings. Having ended an 10-year skid versus Amherst last season with a 20-14 road victory, Wesleyan can put back-to-back wins against the Jeffs into the books for the first time since 1992-93. Even more significant, with a 19-17 homecoming win vs. Williams in 2013,

Ulysse to Serve as Panelist at Columbia’s Caribbean Conference

Imagining and Imaging the Caribbean

“Imagining and Imaging the Caribbean.”

Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, was invited to participate in “Imagining and Imaging the Caribbean,” the inaugural conference of Columbia’s Greater Caribbean Studies Center, on Oct. 18.

Ulysse will discuss “Writing in the Caribbean Diaspora” with fellow panelists Cuban writer and artist Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo (Brown University) and Kittian-Brittish novelist Caryl Phillips (Yale University).

Other topics include “The Greater Caribbean as a Geo-Historical and Cultural Region,” “Writing about the Caribbean from National Perspectives” and “Photographing the City in the Greater Caribbean.” The event concludes with a Caribbean concert.

Schwarcz Addresses Moral Dilemma, Ethics in China in Colors of Veracity

veraVera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, is the author of a new book titled Colors of Veracity: A Quest for Truth in China, and Beyond, published by the University of Hawai’i Press in November 2014.

In Colors of Veracity, Schwarcz condenses four decades of teaching and scholarship about China to raise fundamental questions about the nature of truth and history. In vivid prose, she addresses contemporary moral dilemmas with a highly personal sense of ethics and aesthetics.

Drawing on classical sources in Hebrew and Chinese (as well as several Greek and Japanese texts), Schwarcz brings deep and varied cultural references to bear on the question of truth and falsehood in human consciousness. The book redefines both the Jewish understanding of emet (a notion of truth that encompasses authenticity) and the Chinese commitment to zhen (a vision of the real that comprises the innermost sincerity of the seeker’s heart-mind). Works of art, from contemporary calligraphy and installations to fake Chinese characters and a Jewish menorah from Roman times, shed light light on the historian’s task of giving voice to the dread-filled past.

Following in the footsteps of literary scholar Geoffrey Hartman, Schwarcz expands on the “Philomela Project,” which calls on historians to find new ways of conveying truth, especially when political authorities are bent on enforcing amnesia of past traumatic events.

Schwarcz, who was born and raised in Cluj, Romania, was one of the first exchange scholars to study in China in 1979 and has returned to Beijing many times since then.

For more information on the book or to order, visit the University of Hawai’i Press website.

Schwarcz will be speaking about her book at 4:15 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Wasch Center. The event is open to the public.