Sopher Awards 2014

There are  two awards ($1800) each – from the generous support of Mrs. Tressa L. Sopher & Mr. Phillip Sopher, recently deceased, older brother of longtime Syracuse Geography professor David Sopher. 

Parvathy Binoy, for her paper, “Struggling against Gendered Precarity in Kathikudam, Kerala”, recently published in “Economic and Political Weekly” a premier, peer-reviewed journal in India.  In the paper, Parvathy draws on her fieldwork experiences to make an argument about how precarity is produced through state and corporate action. She draws on, and critiques, the seminal work of Guy Standing; she draws on and creatively blends feminist analysis and Raymond Williams’s ideas on practical consciousness and “structures of feeling.” The arguments laid out are nicely interwoven with moving vignettes of the women living in the shadow of the toxic waste produced by local industrial activity. 

Alejandro Camargo, for his paper, the first chapter -  “Undesirable Ecologies” - in his dissertation, “Return to the Land: Peasants and the State in Post-Disaster Colombia.”  The chapter serves as an historical account and geographical configuration of a post-disaster landscape in the Department of Atlantico in Northern Colombia. The disaster - record-breaking rains intensified by a strong La Nina - occurred in 2010, and caused catastrophic flooding and socio-environmental disruption, making room for a reconfiguration of state-society relations.  A government-led operation, “climate change adaptation”, has initiated rural redevelopment, including housing projects and agricultural initiatives.  Alejandro’s larger research examines relationships between peasants and the state, and how these relationships are reconfigured as climate changes, and environmental disasters increase in frequency and intensity. This paper combines material from ethnographic field work and archival sources, and weaves them together to tell an elegantly written and theoretically sophisticated story.

Past Sopher Award Winners