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LSJ Welcomes New Faculty Member

Submitted by Charlotte Anthony on October 17, 2011 - 7:15pm

Assistant Professor Carolyn Pinedo Turnovsky will be joining the Law, Societies, and Justice faculty this year with a joint appointment with American Ethnic Studies (AES).

Pinedo Turnovsky currently teaches courses on race, ethnicity and gender in the context of immigration studies. This year, she will teach two new courses for LSJ, “Immigration, Citizenship and Rights” during the winter quarter, and “Immigration, Labor and Rights” in spring.

She said that students in her classes will be asked to examine the ways select moments in law and policy have shaped the concept of identity and the meanings of citizenship, as well as the implications on membership in different areas of social life.

“I think what I’d like students to walk away with is to show them that these categories of identity, like race and gender, are not rigid categories but that they are categories that are defined socially that reflect a social reality of a particular time and context that is shaped by earlier historical moments,” said Pinedo Turnovsky. “I hope students will come out realizing how complex those categories are and how complex the process is.”

She said that she felt that her interests matched up well with the LSJ program.

“As a sociologist, I’m someone who is really interested in learning how people craft meaning in interaction,” she said. “Examining identity in racial, ethnic and gender terms for new immigrant groups and how they are situating themselves in new places really spoke to the interests of the colleagues in AES and I am equally interested in studying the connections with law, in seeing how law and policy formally produce citizen and immigrant statuses and how that translates in daily interactions.”

One of the aspects of the program that spoke to her was the interdisciplinary nature of LSJ and seeing how law shapes interactions.

As part of her research, she conducted an ethnographic study of a diverse group of day laborers on a street corner in Brooklyn.

“I spent close to three years with one set of day laborers, both immigrant and U.S. born men and I focused most of my energy in understanding how the workers came to understand themselves as workers in the day labor market in raced and gendered ways, and how those meanings reflected what it meant to be a day laborer, how that was linked to the ideals of being a good worker,” said Pinedo Turnovsky.

She also said that she came to see how the law constrained their role and position in the labor market, making and un-making them as desirable workers.

Before coming to the University of Washington, she became interested in studying the process of becoming a citizen in the United States and learning how the messages that people receive in that process match or differ from their understanding of citizen identity and practices of citizenship.

Formerly an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Pinedo Turnovsky thinks she has found a good fit at UW.

“As interdisciplinary units, I like that both AES and LSJ have offered me the opportunity to be challenged,” she said. “I think they are both academic spaces that I am familiar with in some ways given my research and teaching interests, but at the same time, they will push me to see my work in different ways.”

She said that she is enthusiastic about being part of the LSJ faculty and delighted that the courses she will be teaching next winter will integrate the subject areas that she is most interested in.

Pinedo Turnovsky said that what she likes most about teaching is not only sharing her research interests with students but also the challenges that come from teaching.

“I really appreciate the discussions where students will ask me questions or offer their concerns given their own histories to offer a different insight,” said Pinedo Turnovsky. “I think what I like most about teaching is when students offer me an opportunity to see my questions in a different way.”

This article was composed by Charlotte Anthony.

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