public sociology at the border

I am in South Bend, Indiana today to give a talk on a recent paper. I was expecting an easy go at the make-shift border that consists of a dimly lit room in the Toronto airport where American Homeland Security officers check passports. After all, I have a U.S. passport and I wasn’t traveling with my Canadian Husband–that often gets us extra questions.

So, for whatever reason, I was not expecting to be grilled, and came up rather unprepared for the officer to ask me the topic of my talk. For a fraction of a second, I froze up and forgot what it was–I will be giving two talks and they scrambled in my brain–and then I was so glad when the title popped into my head that I blurted out

Economic Inequality and Attitudes toward Homosexuality!!!

And then I saw the look on his face, which lasted only a split second until he went back to a total deadpan, and he handed me back my passport and sent me on my way.

6 thoughts on “public sociology at the border”

  1. Been there, done that… even got sent to the special line once when my talk was loosely about public understanding of science in the internet age. I think it was because i mentioned the capitalization of science as for-profit business.


  2. My favorite of those i experienced was when i was coming back from my first trip to Africa on a large-scale survey project. i flew back into the states through Detroit. The guy asked what i was doing over there, i said research on religious organizations. He asked what kind. When i mentioned Islam among the list he interrupted me and blurted out, “You’re studying Muslim?!?!” It took every muscle in my body to not look at him and laugh.


  3. “So, for whatever reason, I was not expecting to be grilled,”

    Homeland Security’s chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear… Their two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency….


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