Soc 101 Introductory Sociology
I grew up in state socialist Bulgaria. As a Young Pioneer, I expressed my support for women’s advancement in society and collected scrap materials for recycling. I also aspired to participating in the Assemblies of Peace hosted by my country, which brought together children from all over the world. At the same time, I told jokes about our leader, until my parents sat me down and explained that I needed to be careful about who I told these jokes to because they, my parents, might be disappeared. This ended my joke-telling career prematurely. Together with my parents, I was enthusiastic about the democratic transition in my country. So, the bitter debates over socialism and democracy that divided my larger family puzzled me. After finishing my B.A. in French philology, I embarked on a journey to America to learn more about the world. Here, I was faced with the war in Iraq, which I could not comprehend either. My curiosity drew me to the social sciences in search of explanations. I completed a Ph.D. in sociology and peace studies (with a gender studies minor) at the University of Notre Dame, where I read broadly about collective behavior and social movements, comparative and historical sociology, culture, gender, globalization and transnationalism, language, peace, war/violence and social conflict, political sociology, and theory. I am an honorary Research Associate with the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies in Santiago, Chile, where previously I held a Postdoctoral Fellowship.
My mixed-method research has dealt with the role civil society plays in instituting distinct norms of civility and cooperation and with the factors leading to participation in political violence. The unifying theme underlying my scholarship is the cultural foundation of global stratification. My main geographical focus is modern Eastern Europe although I have conducted research on Sub-Saharan Africa and in the Americas too. In my current research, I examine (1) the mechanisms through which inequality is created even in the least likely case of the Esperanto movement, (2) the foundations of consent in state socialist Eastern Europe, and (3) the contributions practice theory can make to the study of political violence.
2015. “World Culture, Uncoupling, Institutional Logics, and Recoupling: Practices and Self-identification as Institutional Microfoundations of Political Violence.” Sociological Forum 30 (3): 698-720. doi:10.1111/socf.12188
2009. Ana Velitchkova, Jackie Smith, and Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick. “Windows on the Ninth World Social Forum in Belém.” Societies Without Borders 4: 193-208. doi:10.1163/187219109×447476
2008. Jackie Smith, Jeffrey Juris, and the Social Forum Research Collective. “’We are the ones We Have Been Waiting For’: The U.S. Social Forum in Context.” Mobilization 13 (4): 373-394. doi:10.17813/maiq.13.4.2r0m233123644j60