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Christina Simko is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Virginia. She is a cultural and historical sociologist with particular interests in political culture, collective memory, nations and nationalism, and social theory.
Christina’s dissertation focuses specifically on interpretive responses to the events of September 11, 2001, in American political and commemorative culture. Theoretically, she argues for reviving the analytic and sociological conception of “theodicy” found in Max Weber, who used the term to draw attention to cultural vocabularies—religious or secular—that explain human suffering. To analyze the theodicies of September 11, she draws on analytic tools from the interdisciplinary field of memory studies. Contemporary theodicies, she suggests, can only be understood as moments in long historical processes. Thus, the interpretive vocabularies used to come to terms with September 11 are powerfully shaped by rhetorical responses to, and subsequent memory of, prior events—including the battle of Gettysburg, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Christina’s article, “Rhetorics of Suffering: September 11 Commemorations as Theodicy,” is forthcoming in the American Sociological Review. This article was also awarded the 2012 Suzanne Langer Prize from the American Sociological Association Culture Section.