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News Release

April 18, 2005

Cultural Sociologist Rick Fantasia to Lead Kahn Institute

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Longtime American labor movement researcher and onetime organizer Rick Fantasia will soon lead The Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute at Smith College.

Fantasia, professor of sociology, will begin a five-year term as director of the Kahn Institute July 1, succeeding Marjorie Senechal, the Louise Wolff Kahn Professor in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology. The Kahn Institute supports interdisciplinary and collaborative research among faculty, students and visiting scholars through workshops and yearlong projects.

“This is a place where faculty members in such disparate fields as neuroscience and poetry must bring their ideas and methods of analysis to bear on the same subject matter,” said Fantasia. “A topic that was once thought of as the provenance of one field is suddenly thrown open to analytical engagement by someone in a different field.”

Fantasia moved to Northampton in 1978 to attend graduate school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After receiving his doctorate in sociology in 1982, he accepted a post as an assistant professor at Smith and has remained since.

Among his extensive writings about the U.S. labor movement are his award-winning book “Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action and Contemporary American Workers” and 2004 book “Hard Work: Remaking the American Labor Movement.” The American Sociological Association declared another of Fantasia’s publications, about repression and work in the U.S., “the best article on labor in 2001, 2002 and 2003.”

Fantasia also researches contemporary culture. He is currently writing a book about the social transformations of French gastronomy in the age of Americanization, and his article about American fast food and French haute cuisine that appeared in May, 2000, was reprinted in at least seven other languages. Fantasia frequently writes for Le Monde Diplomatique and other French publications.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree at Upsala College, Fantasia worked as a counselor to adolescent boys in Niagara Falls and earned a master’s in social science at the State University of New York at Buffalo, with concentrations in sociology and history. At various times before entering academia, Fantasia also worked in a steel foundry, hospital, tire factory, paper mill and worked as a labor organizer.

Fantasia is currently in Geneva co-directing the Smith Junior Year Abroad program with his wife, Christiane Metral.

The Kahn Institute is embarking on two projects for 2005-2006, titled “Form and Function” and “City Lives and City Life.”

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation’s foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
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Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
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