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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

Macalester Sociology Students Awarded Top Two Prizes in National Competition

St. Paul, Minn. - June 1, 2009 -Macalester sociology majors Alex Park ‘09 (Oakland, Calif.) and Jennifer Barnes ‘09 (North Oaks, Minn.), were awarded first and second prizes respectively for their articles published in Sociological Insight, a refereed journal focused on undergraduate sociology research. Macalester was the only school in the country to have two students’ articles selected for publication.

Over 50 manuscripts—many of which had already been awarded prizes in paper competitions—were submitted for consideration from 33 colleges and universities.  A panel of five sociology faculty and graduate students selected and ranked seven articles for publication on scientific merit.

In his article “A Tale of Two Townships: Political Opportunity and Violent and Non-violent Local Control in South Africa,” Park analyzed instances of anti-immigrant violence and pro-immigrant protection by comparing two similar townships in South Africa during May 2008. Despite their similarities, one township experienced large-scale xenophobic violence, while the other township rallied to support and protect immigrants. Park’s analysis showed that these diverse outcomes relate not to how residents thought of immigrant populations at the time rather, residents of each township used their treatment of immigrants to send a critical message to the national government at a time when its leaders were politically weak.

Barnes completed a series of in-depth semi-structured interviews to gather the data for her article “Style and Consumption among East African Muslim Immigrant Women: The Intersection of Religion, Ethnicity, and Minority Status.” Barnes analyzed the meanings people attach to dress style and consumption at the intersections of culture and identity. Based on her analysis of interviews she conducted with East African Muslim women, Barnes found that the women creatively draw on elements of both Islamic identity and American fashion and consumerism in order to demonstrate their belonging in the different social spheres in which they move and to distinguish or distance themselves in these same contexts.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,858 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.