Helana Darwin is an award-winning sociologist on the academic job market who researches the reproduction of social inequality. Her ongoing research arc theorizes gender inequality through a wide range of subcultures, both online and offline. Helana’s research on the privileged position of omnivorousness within craft beer culture won the Graduate Student Paper Award through the Consumer and Consumption Section of the American Sociological Association. Helana has also proposed a paradigm shift in the sociology of gender and religion through her article “Redoing Gender, Redoing Religion,” published by Gender & Society. The Association for the Sociology of Religion recognized “Redoing Gender, Redoing Religion” through the McNamara Award, as the most outstanding article by a graduate student in 2018.
Helana’s dissertation research analyzes the social experiences of non-binary people (those who identify as neither man nor woman), identifying obstacles that they encounter in their daily lives, along with strategies they have devised in order to achieve social recognition. Based on a virtual ethnography of a social media site and a follow up series of in-depth interviews with 47 non-binary people from across the globe, this research illuminates the limitations and harmful effects of the gender binary system. Helana earned the Joyce Turner Dissertation Fellowship Award from Stony Brook University for this research.
Helana is currently finishing this non-binary gender research arc with several new articles, including: “Navigating the Religious Gender Binary” (Sociology of Religion) and “Challenging the Cisgender/ Transgender Binary: Non-binary people and the transgender label” (Gender & Society). Two more articles are under review. She has also revised her dissertation as a book manuscript and is in active pursuit of a book contract with a University press.
Her next substantive research arc will shift in focus to analyze anti-Semitic ideologies, Jewish racial subjectivities and constructions. This project will begin with an analysis of the Jewish “intermarriage crisis” debate through the lens of critical ethnic studies.
In her spare time, Helana is writing a collection of poetic letters called MeTooPhD, intended for a general reading audience.