If an academic journal had a baby with a dance party, Kate Khanna would probably be the result. While Kate lived down the hall from me freshman year, I didn’t really get to know her until she moved a few blocks aways from me in Brooklyn in 2014. Right away, she reached out to me, and within a week it was as if we had been best friends for years. Kate is cynical but optimistic, determined but empathetic, and other combinations of things that aren’t really antonyms but still make her into a complex, fascinating person to talk with. She didn’t love New York, so she moved to Boston on the promise of an unpaid, part time internship doing qualitative research in health care, a field she wasn’t familiar with. Once moved, Kate got a part time job at a cafe, taught herself stats on the side, and got hired as a full time staff member at her organization. Now she’s all applied to sociology PhD programs. Despite my displeasure at her moving away from me, I have to admit she had a pretty kickass year in Boston, and I’m really excited to find out what’s next for Kate!
Besides affordable housing, a cause that matters to me is: feminism/gender equity. As a soon-to-be sociologist, my nerd-out topic of choice is the way that gender norms inconspicuously pervade our daily lives and reproduce gender inequality. I am fascinated by the cultural assumptions, linguistic choices, and preconceived notions that often subtly influence gender ideology.
What’s your favorite anthropologic concept? Oh man (gendered term). Did they teach us those? I would say that one of my favorites is the idea of the Maussian gift. Named after the French sociologist Marcel Mauss, it refers to the way that giving a gift generates a debt that must be repaid and therefore creates a social tie between between the giver and recipient in the meantime. Very theoretical, but I’ve found it surprisingly relevant to real life.
How would you describe the difference between NYC and Boston? New York City and Boston have so many differences. But besides just the fact that there’s so much more room to walk on the sidewalks in Boston, I think the culture and lifestyle are drastically different. In New York, everyone is transient, very few people will stay there longterm, and it’s such a hodgepodge of people (which is great!) that there’s not as much of a feeling of belonging or community. In Boston, once you’re in Boston, you’re in BOSTON, and don’t you forget it. Also, no matter how much money people have, people (at least our age) don’t live extravagant lifestyles. You can have a nicer apartment or eat at some nicer restaurants, but for the most part people live, eat, and play in much the same way. There are no loft apartments or extravagant meals or bottle service at clubs. That’s just not the way most people choose to live.
My favorite feminist joke, expression, etc. is: I like the t-shirts floating around the Internet right now that say “A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate.”
What question should I ask the next person? What is one piece of life wisdom you’ve learned in the past 5 years? Might be a hard one, but could be really interesting, especially depending on the person’s age!
Joe’s question: How do you solve a problem like Maria? And isn’t our problematization of Maria itself, a problem? In response to the former: they didn’t teach me how to solve anything, only how to problematize it. And in response to the latter: perhaps, but you would have to problematize the problematization of Maria to find out.