A conversation with Jeffrey Michael Clair, author of At Home on the Street: People, Poverty and a Hidden Culture of Homelessness (2009: Lynne Rienner Publishers).
Clair (Sociology) and his co-author, UAB alumnus Jason Wasserman (now assistant professor of bioethics, Kansas City Medical Center), spent more than four years studying Birmingham’s homeless communities—including several nights sleeping on the streets—for their documentary, American Refugees: Homelessness in Four Movements, and an accompanying book, At Home on the Street: People, Poverty and a Hidden Culture of Homelessness. The film premiered in June of this year.
On the Record: What came first, the movie or the book?
Clair: We started this as a film project—the book wasn’t planned. I got involved with the ethnographic film minor here at UAB and ended up deciding to teach a class called Sociology of Film and Photography. We were interested in studying film as a research method and came up with the idea that we would make a film of our own. We picked homelessness because we had access to experts on campus.
On the Record: How did you end up sleeping on the streets yourselves?
Clair: We had this simple idea that maybe instead of just talking to experts about homelessness, we should go try to talk to the homeless about homelessness. Then we got challenged by the homeless that if we were really going to understand their situation, we should come stay on the streets.
On the Record: What surprised you during your research?
Clair: The thing we learned, immediately, was that the homeless don’t beg. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions. They do not beg, and they don’t allow beggars around them. They have work corners, and they will fight for work, and they will work hard. They are incredibly creative people.
Jeffrey Clair discussed his book and homelessness in Birmingham in this video.
Polar Microbiology: The Ecology, Biodiversity, and Bioremediation Potential of Microorganisms in Extremely Cold Environments
Edited by Asim K. Bej, Jackie Aislabie, and Ronald M. Atlas
(2009: CRC Press)
Although we picture Antarctica as a land of dazzling white icescapes, the shores and soils of the Frozen Continent are marred in many places by the ugly sheen of petrochemical pollutants. In this new book, believed to be the first in its field, Bej (Biology) and his co-editors focus on a solution to the polar pollution problem: “extremophile” microorganisms with the natural ability to degrade pollutants and thrive in the frigid Arctic and Antarctic soil and waters. Polar Microbiology should
be the “ideal starting point for the future research that must be done if we are to effectively reduce man’s eco-footprint on our polar regions,” says Bej.
One Sick Planet
Health & Globalization
By Geoffrey B. Cockerham and William C. Cockerham
The Boeing 747 is an ideal disease vector: At any moment, a person infected with avian flu, antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, or another serious condition could step off a plane and touch off a pandemic. In Health & Globalization, William Cockerham (Sociology) and his son, Geoffrey (a political science professor at Utah Valley University) explore this problem and a host of other topics, including medical tourism, environmental disasters, and changing health-care systems in the United States, United Kingdom, China, and other countries. They also analyze the roles of national governments, nongovernmental organizations, and multinational corporations in addressing global health issues.
2010 Discussion Book
Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference
By Warren St. John
(2009: Spiegel & Grau)
UAB’s previous discussion books have journeyed from Afghanistan to Haiti to the Arctic Ocean. The latest takes a look at a youth soccer team in the Atlanta suburbs. Outcasts United tags along for a season with the Fugees, a squad made up of refugee children from war-torn countries across Africa and the Middle East and coached by an energetic, charismatic woman from Jordan. Author Warren St. John visited UAB in August to speak with students about the book, which is now being made into a feature film. (Learn more about Discussion Book activities.)
Counter-RevolutionariesTory Insurgents: The Loyalist Perception and Other Essays
By Timothy M. Barnes, Robert M. Calhoon, and Robert S. Davis
(2010: University of South Carolina Press)
Although popular sentiment was clearly with the revolutionaries, the inhabitants of colonial America were not unanimous for independence from the British Empire. This collection of essays, cowritten by UAB alumnus Robert Davis, examines the lives of American Loyalists, or Tories, in the Revolutionary era. Davis, a 1996 graduate of the master’s degree program in history, is now a member of the history department at Wallace State College in Hanceville, Alabama, and a noted historian of frontier Georgia and South Carolina.