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Department of Social Sciences
Social Sciences Lecture Series
Efforts to improve health care often focus on tangible aspects of the medical encounter. However, more recent evidence suggests that medical decisions are not based on directly observable data, as was once assumed. Rather, patients and providers rely on intuition and emotion to guide important health decisions. Medical Sociology provides a platform for understanding the social context of medical encounters and the behaviors of patients who ultimately bear the responsibility for self-care. Drawing from recent research in the area of gastroenterology, I will illustrate the benefits of applying a Medical Sociology perspective to understand medical decision making among patients diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus and the providers who treat them. Findings are based on qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews with patients and providers. I will discuss the ways in which social and emotional factors shape providers’ treatment decisions and patients’ perceptions, experiences, and behaviors.
This research examines the contentious politics surrounding sex work at a key crossroads in the Americas during a period of U.S. empire building from 1903 to 1932. In order to construct a transcontinental canal and establish a strategic military outpost in the region, the U.S. carved out the Canal Zone a swath of territory across the isthmus called the Canal Zone in 1903. Meanwhile in the neighboring Republic of Panama, migrant men and women from across the globe found new opportunities for themselves in the bustling urban borderland economy. Migrant women, in particular, found varying degrees of economic mobility and autonomy by partaking in the isthmian sex trade. Although often overlooked in the historical literature, I emphasize the crucial role that migrant women’s labor played in shaping the economy of leisure on the outskirts of the Panama Canal.
Women’s participation in the sex trade also elicited a host of racial and patriarchal apprehensions among both state authorities and laboring people on the move. I argue that migrant women creatively adapted to conflicting cultural anxieties over sex work as it emerged at the heart of U.S. imperial designs, Panamanian nationalism, and Afro-Caribbean visions of racial advancement. This paper first examines why U.S. officials fretted over white women from the United States who travelled to the isthmus in order to work in the brothels Republic’s entertainment zones during the construction era (1904-1914). Although U.S. authorities attempted thwart this particular migrant network, North American women persistently found new ways to isthmus as a growing number of U.S. sailors arrived in Panama during the 1920s. The second half of the paper examines why migrant Afro-Caribbean women emerged at the center of debate among U.S. authorities, Panamanian officials, and Afro-Caribbean men during the era of World War I. Furthermore, it examines how Afro-Caribbean women navigated these debates and took to the courtrooms, labor halls, and newspaper columns to make their own demands. Utilizing immigration records, diplomatic correspondences, Panamanian court cases, and local Afro-Caribbean newspapers, this research highlights the limits of imperial power at a global crossroads as migrant people constantly shaped the isthmian nightlife as well as discourses of sexual deviancy.
February 26, 2015
David Ryden, Professor of History, UHD “The Society of West India Planters and Merchants in the Age of Emancipation, ca. 1816–1835”
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. in main building, room N-1099.
The Society of West India Planters and Merchants in the Age of Emancipation, ca. 1816-1835 David Ryden, University of Houston-Downtown
The London Society of West India Planters and Merchants (the Society), later known as the West India Committee, was the chief political arm of the sugar planting interest during the age of British abolition and emancipation. My previous work focuses on this organization’s makeup and tactics during the decades leading to the abolition of the British slave trade through the end of the Napoleonic wars (1783-1815). This paper continues this line-of-research, through a quantitative analysis of the organization’s meeting minutes during the 1820s and early 1830s. Particular attention is paid to the Society’s organizational structure, political networks inside parliament, and relationship with the colonial assemblies and island agents.
Historians have long recognized the important role the Society played in delaying emancipation, but we know very little detail about this industry lobby. This paper presents, for the first time, a statistical view of this organization's structure in the 1820s as well as a rudimentary prosopographical description of its most active members. The data for this analysis comes from the Society's minute books that record 473 meetings spanning between 1816 and 1835. These gatherings included large "general" meetings that sometimes attracted hundreds of attendees as well as the much more intimate meetings of the Standing Committee, the Acting Committee, and various subcommittees. The Society’s minute-book data are also enhanced by linking the most active members to the slave compensation commission database, which has been made widely available through the Slavery Legacies Project. Other scholars have used these records, which document the cash amount given to each slaveholder in exchange for Emancipation, to reveal the breadth of slave ownership in Great Britain well into the Victorian age. This paper, however, works backwards from 1834, using the compensation-claim data to identify the Society's most active membership and their respective stake in the slave system.
This quantitative analysis of the Society’s minute books demonstrates that the calls for Emancipation breathed new life into the lobby and forced its reorganization. In response to Buxton’s parliamentary call (1823) to end slavery in the Empire, a formal Literary Committee was created in order to better manage print media. With a budget at its disposal, this propaganda committee published proslavery tracts and compensated friendly newspaper editors and authors. Further, the Society modified its constitution so that a new executive committee was formed in 1829. This “Acting Committee” consisted of elected members who met, at the very least, on a weekly basis in order to coordinate a sustained lobbying effort to (1) promote slave-owner compensation and to (2) prevent the processing of foreign sugar for reexport. This study goes on to show that the core leadership--as was in the eighteenth century--was dominated by planters and merchants associated with the island of Jamaica. Over 85 percent of meetings were chaired by members connected with this largest, but declining, sugar colony. Perhaps in an effort to compensate for this lopsided leadership, a separate subcommittee for investors associated with Berbice and Demerara was created in the 1820s.
March 12 ,2015
Johnathan Chism, Lecturer in History, UHD “The Saints Go Marching: The Church of God in Christ and the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee, 1954-1968”
2:30 - 3:30 p.m. in the Academic building, A-300.
Many civil rights scholars and historians have examined black Baptist and Methodists’ contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and have overlooked black Holiness-Pentecostals’ involvements in the Movement. Scholars of black religion such as Hans Baer and Merrill Singer assumed black Pentecostals’ beliefs prevented them from being significantly engaged in civil rights struggles. Notable historians of the Civil Rights Movement such as Taylor Branch, author of an extensive three-volume account of the Civil Rights Movement entitled, America in the Kings Years, 1954-1968, gave very limited attention to the roles black Pentecostals played in the Movement. Primarily guided by historical, sociological, theo-ethical, and hermeneutical methods, my research explores and examines Church of God in Christ (COGIC) members’ engagements in the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, Tennessee, 1954-1968. I elected to focus on COGIC because it is the largest and oldest black holiness-Pentecostal denomination. I chose Memphis as the location for the study because the most renowned Civil Rights leader, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his last sermon at Mason Temple COGIC, the location of the COGIC headquarters. My central argument is that Memphis COGIC members were not divorced from the Memphis Movement but endeavored to combat racial injustice and inequality through a diversity of means, including through politics, nonviolent direct action, and spiritual quest. Memphis saints participated in political and voter education initiatives, desegregation efforts, and the Sanitation Workers Strike. My research indicates that there is greater complexity to black churches involvement in the Civil Rights Movement besides the contributions of black Baptist and Methodist churches and figures.
How do we decide which way to go when confronted with a new environment? Wayfinding is the practice of locating yourself within a space and determining which direction you need to go. Architects and designers use the principles of psychology to influence the flow of people through a variety of spaces, both large and small. When executed properly the layout of the building serves as an intrinsic guide to encourage appropriate movement through the space. By using lighting, spatial organization, thoughtful finish selections, and technology, designers often tailor their strategies to the expected end user. Because the end user tends to vary widely in cognitive ability, language, size, and physical capability, the designer relies on the foundational theories of environmental psychology, the understanding of brain physiology, and the tenets of perception, cognition, and memory to create spaces that are accessible and intuitive to a variety of users.
Contact Claude Rubinson for more information on the lecture series.
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Last updated or reviewed on 2/20/15