Despina Lalaki’s Profile

Faculty
Active 3 years, 1 month ago
Despina Lalaki
Title
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department
Social Science
Bio

I am a sociologist who works in the areas of historical and cultural sociology, social theory, American and Modern Greek Studies. I am particularly interested in long-term social and cultural changes, changing modes of consciousness, the history of the state and its ideological and cultural foundations, the role of the intellectuals.

Currently I teach as Adjunct Assistant Professor at Baruch College and The New York City College of Technology – CUNY for the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Department of Social Science respectively. Previously I held a position as Visiting Research Fellow at The Center for the Study of Culture, Technology and Work at CUNY-The Graduate Center. I have also taught at New York University, the A.S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies as Lecturer and Senior Lecturer and I have been a Dean’s Fellow at the Eugene Lang College, a division of the New School University. At the New School University I completed my M.A. and Ph.D in Sociology (2014). I have also studied History of Art and Architecture at SUNY-Binghamton University (M.A.) and Archaeology and Art History at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens-Greece (B.A.).

In my book project, tentatively entitled “Digging for Democracy in Greece. Intracivilizational Processes During the American Century,” I explore the role that the American political imagination has played in the formulation and transformation of some of the foundational ideas and cultural schemes of the modern Greek nation-state. I try to unravel the political significance of the Greek cultural heritage produced and reproduced through a series of complex and largely uncharted relationships among various national and trans-national agents, primarily Greek and American, organizing and acting in and around the archaeological field. A sociology of archaeology and an archaeology of the Greek state, my project explicates the ways in which Americans engaged with modern Greek political culture as they searched for classical Greek antiquity.

Parts of my research results I have published in Histoire@Politique. Politique, Culture, Société, The Journal of Historical Sociology, Hesperia. The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, the International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society of which I was a Managing Editor for four years. Occasionally I also write for newspapers and magazines such as Al Jazeera, Boston Occupier, New Politics Magazine and Marginalia-Σημειώσεις στο Περιθώριο and contribute commentary to radio, tv programs and social media.

My Courses

SOC1101 ELEMENTS OF SOCIOLOGY

SOC1101 ELEMENTS OF SOCIOLOGY

Sociology is the field of study that takes up to explain social, political, cultural and economic phenomena in terms of social structures, social forces and group relations. The course introduces students to several sociological topics, including socialization, culture, the social construction of knowledge, inequality, social stratification, social institutions such as religion, government, family, race and ethnic relations, poverty and deviance, among others. Sociology is the art of asking questions; big questions such as “What is race?” or “How class structure and social stratification impacts people’s lives?”, “How culture matters?”, “Why states go to war?”, or more detailed and focused questions, like: “Why working class children get working class jobs?”, “How fast food chains impact American family relations?”, “How the social media impact communication?”, “How college education has changed over the past decades?” Acquiring the conceptual and methodological tools to address more broad but also narrower sociological questions of that kind is one of the main objectives of this course. While sociology assumes that human actions are patterned, it also suggests that individuals have ample of room to change their conditions and direct social change. In that sense the quest to understand society is important and always urgent, for if we cannot understand the social world that we live in, we are more likely to be overwhelmed and ultimately incapacitated by it. As a specialist, the sociologist systematically gathers, processes and analyzes information with the objective to provide insights into what is going on in a situation, present alternatives and often assist policy-makers in making informed decisions and formulating policies. Sociology however, and the sociological imagination is not the prerogative solely of specialists. Sociology, further than being a discipline, a field in social sciences, it constitutes a mode of thinking. Thinking sociologically is also directly related to acting socially. An important objective of this course is to learn how to think alongside others, connect our condition to those of others and understand the importance of not only thinking but also acting collectively. The course, in addition to the theoretical texts assigned for reading and analysis, incorporates journalistic accounts of social issues, autobiographies, memoirs, oral histories and materials like photographs and film, in order to encourage students to experiment with original sociological research. Learning, also, to apply sociological language and concepts to events and situations we encounter daily, like ‘sociological location’ (identities like race, gender and class) and ‘social institutions’ (organized entities that structure society, like education and religion) is of key importance. By the end of the course, students should be well on their way to developing their own ‘sociological imagination.’

My Projects

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