People

Faculty

Eleanor R. Townsley

Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Sociology and Director of Nexus; Chair of Sociology and Anthropology

Eleanor Townsley is interested in the role of intellectuals in social life. She teaches a range of courses in social theory, media, gender, and social science research methods. Her recent work considers the rise of media meta-commentary in democratic deliberation, the social reorganization of expertise, and the changing social roles of academics as public intellectuals. Townsley served as associate dean of faculty from 2012 to 2016 and is the faculty director of the Nexus Curriculum to Career program. 

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Eleanor Townsley

Patricia A. Banks

Professor of Sociology

Patricia A. Banks studies culture, consumption, and markets with a focus on race and ethnicity. In 2019 Banks was in residence at Stanford University as a CASBS Fellow. She is author of the books Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums (Routledge 2019) and Represent: Art and Identity Among the Black Upper-Middle Class (Routledge 2010). In other projects Banks is investigating corporate support for the arts and the market for art from the African Diaspora. She is also completing Race, Ethnicity, and Consumption: A Sociological View (Under Contract Routledge) where she brings sociological theory to bear on race and ethnicity in the marketplace.

Patricia A. Banks

Benjamin Gebre-Medhin

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Ben Gebre-Medhin’s scholarly interest focuses on the relationship between universities, academics and the development of modern states. His recently published work concentrates on higher education in American political development, and his forthcoming book asks how a handful of wealthy, elite, private universities in the U.S. came to compete over free virtual courses during the MOOC movement. Prior to completing a postdoc at Stanford University, his work was supported by the U.S. Department of Education (Javits Fellowship) and the National Academy of Education (NAEd/Spencer Foundation). In addition to historical and interview methods, he has used machine learning on text data to unlock new insights into traditional social science questions.

Benjamin Gebre-Medhin

Kenneth H. Tucker, Jr.

Helen P. Bibbero Professor of Sociology; on leave fall 2020

Kenneth Tucker’s teaching and research interests include sociological theory, historical sociology, social movements, social inequality, and contemporary media.  He is the author of five books, most recently Workers of the World Enjoy! (2010), and many articles, including The Political is Personal, Expressive, Aesthetic, and Networked: Contemporary American Languages of the Self from Trump to Black Lives Matter (2017).  His current research focuses on the creation of a distinctive upper class culture in late nineteenth century New England and an exploration of the rise and cultural significance of contemporary populism, in particular the appeal of Donald Trump.

Kenneth H. Tucker

Ayca Zayim

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Ayca Zayim's research lies at the intersection of economic and political sociology, and the sociology of globalization and development. In particular, she studies power dynamics between global finance and central banks in emerging economies. Based on extensive field research in a global financial center, London, and two emerging economies, South Africa and Turkey, she explores how the power of finance operates in central banking under financial globalization. Her research has been supported by the Center for Engaged Scholarship, the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, and the Mellon-Wisconsin Fellowship. Her future research aims to unpack knowledge production by financiers at global brokerage firms and investment banks.

Photo of Ayca Zayim

Staff

Michelle Pietras

Academic Department Coordinator

Michelle Pietras is the Academic Department Coordinator for the Department of Sociology & Anthropology.  Michelle manages the budget, purchasing, online course catalog submissions, and events, and is located in Porter Hall, Room 102.

Barbara Bunyan

Visiting Faculty

Cass Sever

Visiting Instructor in Sociology

Cass Sever is compelled by questions at the nexus of crime, inequality and urbanization. Presently, her work seeks to understand how criminal justice surveillance, such as offender registration systems, shapes and perpetuates inequality. Her current research uses ethnographic fieldwork with registered sex offenders, local community members and criminal justice agents to explore how contemporary criminal justice policy and discourse impact the lives of registered people.