May 2010


Cali-mazoo Girl

Assistant Professor of Sociology Laura Barraclough (Bare-uh-CLUFF) is a born-and-reared southern Californian who loves big cities. Fortunately for "K", the prevailing (and figurative) west wind that blew her Kalamazoo-way is her desire to be a student forever. Once, in an undergraduate dance course (University of California San Diego), Barraclough overheard a classmate mention graduate school plans. "I didn't know what graduate school was," she says, "but I thought, 'Cool! There's more!'" Her "more" was the University of Southern California, where she earned her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity (her B.A. is in ethnic studies as well). A series of great professors kindled her interest in the social relevance of education to power and inequality, and that flame has never waned. Her next "There's more!" was a career as a college professor, "a way to get paid for remaining a lifelong student." Barraclough began her teaching at a local college for adults, but "K" seemed a better fit for continuous learning, and that was enough siren song for her to be the first Los Angeles ex-pat in her family. She's taught at Kalamazoo College for two years. What does she miss the most from home? "The food! The abundance of cheap and excellent sushi, Mexican, and Thai."

What's the best song ever recorded?
Nina Simone's "Feeling Good." Perhaps it imprinted during the 5-day drive required to move from LA to Michigan.

What's your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
The one I recall reading the most as a child is "Hansel and Gretel."

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Well, I'm not sure this is what I want to hear, but I expect He or She will say something along these lines: "Gotcha! You thought it was all about social dynamics, but there're whole other layers you were unaware of." And I'll probably reply, "Can I still come in?"

What's your favorite word?

What's your least favorite word?
Aspartame, the sugar substitute, but it's somewhat saved from being my least favorite by my sister's mispronunciation. She calls it ass-par-tim-MEE.

What turns you on?

What turns you off?

What sound do you love?
Bacon sizzling, though I rarely eat bacon. My dad used to make big breakfasts so the rest of us could sleep in, and I remember the sound (maybe the smell, too) when the bacon reached a certain level of fried.

What sound do you hate?
Car alarms.

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Architect. For a long time it's what I thought I'd be. A close second is community organizer, although I try to work that into my teaching.

What profession would you not like to participate in?
Anything having to do with finance and banking. Its value system is troubling, not to mention I'd be torn to pieces in that world.

What's been a GREAT MOMENT in your liberal arts learning?
My 2009 spring quarter "Prisons and Public Policy" class. The students made a documentary titled "Behind the Bars," and I was astounded by their drive and commitment. Will Watts and Kammy Webb worked very hard to complete it the following summer, and it has been shown throughout the area. I recently heard from a woman who had seen it at her church, and she told me it inspired her to hire a former prisoner. The film has power and impact, and the students did it.

Who's the person (living or dead) with whom you'd most like to spend a lunch hour?
Amy Goodman. She's the radio/TV host of the public news show, Democracy Now.

What memory from childhood still surprises you?
My earliest memory is falling out of a hammock at daycare. I guess I was about three years old. And I remember I fell onto concrete. It surprises me because I still recall it, and I hate hammocks to this day. Not long ago I was considering an inexpensive trip to Mexico and Central America, but quite a number of the more modestly priced accommodations used hammocks, so I've postponed the idea for the time being.

What is your favorite curse word?
Scheizah. I don't know how to spell it. I don't know what language it is. I pronounce it shy-ZAH, but I'm not sure that's correct. I think it means "shit." And I try not to say it as often as I once may have.

What is your favorite hobby?
I love to cook. I've only been intentional about it for the past two or three years, but find it a great way to unwind. And, I get to eat at the end, which is my second favorite hobby.

What is your favorite comedy movie?
I don't watch movies much, and comedies even more rarely, if at all. What I watch most is documentaries, and a recent favorite is The Weather Underground, about the leftist organization in the late '60s and early '70s. The film shatters the stereotype many people have about this group, and I love things that fundamentally challenge what you thought you knew or believed.

What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?
Though it's not a singular event, I work into every class I teach the histories of residential segregation. It was the topic that got me interested in ethnic studies, and it is the topic that I most want to teach - why our neighborhoods are so segregated and how that affects who we become.

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?
Yes, absolutely. And maybe shaken a bit, like a frappe.

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Evie on February 18, 2014 at 6:55 am
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Evie on February 18, 2014 at 6:55 am
Look at, it's friendlier than most other sites and have original features.
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