Category Archives: Alumni

PhD Alumna Sabrina Strings’ Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by

Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by our PhD alumna Sabrina Strings was just released!

It explores how fat phobia in the West finds its roots not in health concerns, but in the triangle slave trade and Protestantism.

How the female body has been racialized for over two hundred years.

There is an obesity epidemic in this country and poor black women are particularly stigmatized as “diseased” and a burden on the public health care system. This is only the most recent incarnation of the fear of fat black women, which Sabrina Strings shows took root more than two hundred years ago.

Strings weaves together an eye-opening historical narrative ranging from the Renaissance to the current moment, analyzing important works of art, newspaper and magazine articles, and scientific literature and medical journals—where fat bodies were once praised—showing that fat phobia, as it relates to black women, did not originate with medical findings, but with the Enlightenment era belief that fatness was evidence of “savagery” and racial inferiority.

The author argues that the contemporary ideal of slenderness is, at its very core, racialized and racist. Indeed, it was not until the early twentieth century, when racialized attitudes against fatness were already entrenched in the culture, that the medical establishment began its crusade against obesity.


An important and original work, Fearing the Black Body argues convincingly that fat phobia isn’t about health at all, but rather a means of using the body to validate race, class, and gender prejudice.

The book has been featured on three “must read” lists:

Ms. Magazine’s “2019 Reads for the Rest of Us”

Bitch Media’s “15 Nonfiction Books Feminists Should read this Spring”

#ColorlinesReads: Get Some Perspective With These 5 Books

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UCSD Sociology Alumna Becky Neiman-Cobb on Working for Pixar

In an article for Triton, “Finding Pixar“,  UCSD Sociology Alumna Becky Neiman-Cobb shares her experiences on working for Pixar.

Sociology alumna Becky Neiman-Cobb helps to bring beloved Disney/Pixar characters to life.

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Cristina Lacomba to start one-year postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard School of Education

Congratulations to Sociology PhD Cristina Lacomba, who will begin a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Roberto Gonzales at the Harvard Graduate School of Education this Fall. Dr. Lacomba and Dr. Gonzales are seeking to understand how the American immigration policy known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) affects the everyday lives of eligible young people. Dr. Lacomba’s primary responsibility will be to manage and analyze the National UnDACAmented Research Project (NURP) interview-based qualitative data set. In her position, she will be expected to lead particular strands of inquiry and to publish this work with others on the research team.


Congratulations, Cristina, and good luck with this important endeavor!

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David Pinzur (PhD, 2016) to be published in Economy and Society

Congratulations to David Pinzur, PhD, whose article “Making the Grade: Infrastructural Semiotics and Derivative Market Outcomes on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange, 1856-1909” will be published in Economy and Society. The article will be published online and in hard copy by the end of 2016. This article is part of Pinzur’s dissertation project, “Building Futures Markets: Infrastructure and Outcome on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange.”

In this article, Pinzur uses two historical case studies to ask what forms derivative markets can take and how these forms impact price volatility. Comparing the creation of futures markets on the Chicago Board of Trade and New Orleans Cotton Exchange after the Civil War, he finds that the two exchanges–reflecting material,economic, and cultural distinctions–differed in how they graded the agricultural goods underlying their markets. While wheat in Chicago was graded by a single party as it entered into storage and then mixed with other shipments, cotton in New Orleans maintained its form and was graded in an antagonistic negotiation at the point of exchange. Pinzur demonstrates that these differences in classifying practice gave commodity grades distinct qualities: in New Orleans, grades were reliable, but expensive, guides to the quality of cotton, while in Chicago they were unreliable and cheap. These differences affected the types of trades found on each exchange, with Chicago traders embracing volatile, speculative trades, while those in New Orleans favored stable, hedging trades. The article thus demonstrates how distinct classifying practices, shaped by their social environments, contribute to vastly different levels of volatility on two important early derivative markets.

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Beauty Behind Bars

Featured in the Triton Magazine is an article called Beauty Behind Bars which showcases Sociology alumna Laura Pecenco’s (M.A. ’10, Ph.D. ’15) implementation of arts in prisons through Project PAINT.

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Graduate Program Alumni, “Organizing Organic”

Michael Haedicke, UCSD Sociology PhD 2008, and now associate professor of sociology at Drake University, has just published Organizing Organic: Conflict and Compromise in an Emerging Market (Stanford University Press 2016).

For anyone studying organizations, movements, food, and/or culture, this is a must read. Or, if you want to know how Whole Foods execs can position themselves as keepers of the public good, this book’s for you. An added attraction:  Michael’s tongue in cheek writing style is wonderful.

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Book by Tom Waidzunas

UCSD alum Tom Waidzunas’ new book (a revised and expanded study that was originally based on his dissertation) is now in print!

The Straight Line: How the Fringe Science of Ex-Gay Therapy Reoriented Sexuality, by Tom Waidzunas, is published by the University of Minnesota Press.

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Book by Liberty Walther Barnes wins Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize

Great news about UCSD Sociology alumna Liberty Walther Barnes! Her book Conceiving Masculinity has won the Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize. Liberty  graduated with her PhD in 2011 and is now a research associate in the department of sociology at Cambridge University.

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Recent grads research cited in the New York Times

Congrats to Erin Cech (now at Rice University) and Tom Waidzunas (now at Temple University)—two recent UCSD Sociology graduates, whose research was cited a couple of days ago in the New York Times. Nice work!  Check out the article:

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Queenie Zhu wins ASA Sociology of Education award

The  ASA Sociology of Education David Lee Stevenson Award has been given to UCSD Sociology Alum, Queenie Zhu for her paper titled, “On Common Ground: How Spatial Layout Facilitates Schools’ Power to Segregate Students.” Congratulations!

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