Research Roundup: Fall 2015 issue

From climate governance to jazz musicians, drones, inflation targets, and Native American resistance - faculty in the Division of Social Sciences published a wide breadth of topics and ideas over the fall quarter.

December 16, 2015


Politics professor Michael Urban talks about life as a jazz musician in post-Katrina New Orleans. Photo by Michael Urban.
Environmental studies professor Karen Holl is one of the authors in an award-winning study that explores the use of drones in forest restoration. Photo by Jonathan Dandois
Sociology professor Steve McKay released the final report from Working for Dignity and hosted a series of events throughout Santa Cruz county, including a public art installation - pictured here. Photo by Steve McKay

Highlights of some of the research faculty in the social sciences at UC Santa Cruz published in fall quarter, 2015.


When scholars refer to “everyday” religion, what exactly do they mean? Mayanthi Fernando addresses this issue in the article “Rediscovering the “everyday” Muslim: Notes on an anthropological divide.” Fernando argues that scholars encounter unintended problems when using the word “everyday” to describe the religious lives of Muslims around the world. She argue the term misses the complexity of religious life.

What options did Native Americans have when resisting colonialism? In “Placing refuge and the archaeology of indigenous Hinterlands in colonial California,” Tsim D. Schneider examines the ways indigenous people creatively responded to Spanish missionization in the San Francisco Bay region. He shows how they forged new social networks and even reconnected with their past.
also published a study about Native American mobility in colonial California.


“What is money, really? Why doesn’t barter catch on? How do specialized traders arise, like shopkeepers and escrow agents?” asks Daniel Friedman. Thanks to a big data set provided by a major video game studio and PC gaming platform, Friedman and his research lab,Learning and Experimental Economics Projects of Santa Cruz, could take these questions on. Analyzing 40 million trades over an almost 2 year period, Friedman and coauthors find several surprises as they trace how goods and trader networks evolve. 

Carl E. Walsh looks at central banking reform in the article “Goals and Rules in Central Bank Design,” an in depth analysis of two ways to ensure accountable monetary policy: through assigning specific goals, such as an inflation target, or by legislating a specific rule for the Fed to follow, as done in a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives.


Judit Moschkovich published two articles that examine mathematics learning and teaching. One article provides examples of how teachers use dialogue to support students in learning  mathematics and the other analyzes academic literacy in math.
Moschkovich also co-edited
a book about teaching mathematics in multilingual classrooms around the world.

Environmental Studies:

Communities that know together, grow together is the premise of Chris Benner’s new book. Benner and co-author, Manuel Pastor (a UCSC alumnus and former UCSC professor now with the University of Southern California), show that it takes more than economics to make an economy grow.
Benner and Pastor also wrote an article about how advocacy planners can transform regional conflict into collaboration and community to effect positive change.
Benner released the findings from a joint project with the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United on racial segregation in California’s restaurant industry. They found women and workers of color are disproportionately concentrated in the lowest paying segments of the restaurant industry: fast food and back-of-house.  

Karen Holl worked on a study about how drones can help in monitoring forest conservation efforts. The study also won the Elsevier’s Atlas award, an award that recognizes work can can impact people's lives around the world.

In Imagined Borders: (Un)Bounded Spaces of Oil Extraction and Indigenous Sociality in “Post-Neoliberal” Ecuador,” Flora Lu takes readers into the Amazon rainforest to show how oil extraction influences the construction of geographic and social borders within the country.

Why don’t conservative Christians believe in climate change? Because environmentalism takes nature out of God’s creation and into neo-pagan worship, says Andrew Szasz and Bernard Zaleha, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology. In his latest article, Szasz traces a 40 year history of how Conservative Christians see the environmentalist movement as deifying “Mother earth” instead of God the Father and how an apocalyptic “end time” narrative makes global warming and other environmental issues meaningless.

Latin American and Latino Studies:

Catherine S. Ramírez writes about the new ways science fiction is imagining stories of identity, technology, and the future in Afro and Chicano cultures. She was also interviewed about assimilation in a comprehensive study about how Hispanics adapted to the American mainstream.  


In an upcoming book about climate governance, Ronnie Lipschutz examines the promises and perils of privatization of the atmosphere through cap-and-trade and carbon emission permits could have contradictory effects on the mitigation of climate change.  He argues that such permits are a form of private property designed to create a form of self-discipline that might, in conjunction with surveillance and the internet, be used to manage and control individual carbon-burning activities and practices.

How can universities deal with racism? Learn from war zones,” says Mark Fathi Massoud in an op-ed in The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog on politics.  Massoud shows the lessons university administrators can learn from conflict resolution in Sudan. He argues that people, places, and the past are key to building peace. Massoud also just published an article on Muslims in California with Kathleen Moore from UC Santa Barbara.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Michael Urban talks about life as a jazz musician in post-Katrina New Orleans. He spoke with dozens of musicians to learn how they sustain a community - and themselves - through music.


Nick Davidenko's novel visual illusion was selected as a Top 10 finalist in the 2015 international "Illusion of the Year Contest." The illusion is called Mind-Controlled Motion and it shows that when presented with random information, the mind constructs coherent patterns and tricks itself into seeing those patterns as motion.

Psychology professor Phil Hammack and Ph.D. student Erin Toolis look at issues the homeless face. One study examines how the unhoused community are impacted by policy regulating the public spaces they inhabit (think things like removing public benches, closing parks after dark, citing loitering). Hammack and Tooley also released the findings from a study about how homeless youth make sense of their identity and deal with the social stigma of their status. This article was recognized by the American Psychological Association in their “Article Spotlight” feature.

With Yael Benn from the University of Sheffield, psychology professor Steve Whittaker looks at the brain structures involved in how people find access information online. The authors focus on why navigation is repeatedly preferred over search.  

Eileen Zurbriggen with two graduate students, Brandon Balzer Carr and Ella Ben Hagai, wrote a piece honoring feminist social psychologist Sandra Bem, a prominent researcher and influential activist for equality in heterosexual marriages. Their article shows the interdisciplinary impact of Bem’s work and how it applies to queer and feminist theory.

Social Sciences:

Julie Guthman’s latest research looks at California’s lucrative strawberry industry and its challenges. As the state’s 5th highest grossing crop, the strawberry industry is worth $2.6 billion annually. It is a huge source of income for the region and provides employment to many. But with a dependency on extremely harmful fumigants such as chloropicrin and Telone, Guthman asks at what cost to farm workers and neighbors. Other recent publications includes a paper about soil fumigant methyl iodide’s demise and another titled "I will never eat another strawberry again: the biopolitics of consumer-citizenship in the fight against methyl iodide in California." These findings are part of a larger set of research Guthman conducted thanks to two grants from the National Science Foundation. Guthman was also interviewed on the Australian radio show "Life Matters" about how poor food choices are not a result of lack of education but because of economic inequality.


Hiroshi Fukurai published three books: one about the American influence in the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, a volume on the legal landscape in East Asia, and another book exploring Japan’s successes and challenges of adopting a jury system.

Steve McKay, an associate professor of sociology and director of the Center for Labor Studies, spent two years interviewing low-wage workers in Santa Cruz county. In November, McKay publicly released the final report from Working for Dignity and hosted a series of events throughout Santa Cruz county, including a community discussion about raising the minimum wage, a wage theft clinic, and a public art installation.
McKay, along with a team of over 100 UC Santa Cruz undergraduate students, documented problems such as wage theft, no break times, harassment, discrimination, and in some cases, retaliation against workers who spoke out about poor conditions. Interviews, as well as photography, audio and video that McKay and his students captured, can be viewed online

Jenny Reardon talks about the creation of the Science and Justice Training Program at UC Santa Cruz in the inaugural issue of Catalyst, a new journal dedicated to technology studies and feminism. Reardon talks about how the program’s theme of justice was critical to cultivating discussion and research across disciplines. She talks about how it opens a new space to discuss ethics and the issues that affect collective life.

Veronica Terriquez looks at LGBTQ activism within the immigrant youth movement. Terriquez explores how undocumented youth activists disclose their LGBTQ orientation as well as their migrant status. Focusing on the DREAMers “Coming Out of the Shadows” campaign, Terriquez examines how identity is shaped when two marginalized subgroups intersect.