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avatar for Thomas Puleo

Thomas Puleo

Arizona State University
Assistant Professor, School of Politics & Global Studies
Tempe, Arizona

BA Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz


MA Geography, San Francisco State University


PhD Geography, University of California, Los Angeles


My youth was marked by labor in my family's iron working business and study in Catholic elementary and high schools, the first with the Sisters of Notre Dame in Redwood City and the second with the Jesuits in San Jose. The fact that I did these things in the Bay Area of the 70s and early 80s added a gloss to my upbringing that I am still trying to figure out, albeit without a great deal of concentration or effort. Somehow the music of Stevie Nicks figured prominently.


I went on to earn a BA in literature from UC Santa Cruz with a heavy slice of Chinese studies on the side. Highlights included a course on the theory and practice of literary translation with Gabe Berns, my junior year at the University of London, and a long friendship with a linguistics professor, Bill Shipley. The Chinese slice should have been heavier, like a second major, but I never made it that far.


After getting my powerful baccalaureate degree in literature, I spent several years kicking around from one job to another in what I remember as a very difficult late-80s-early-90s economy. I eventually landed a job as an apartment manager in San Francisco's Lower Nob Hill, a position which provided me with an apartment and $200 a month. Since it was part-time, I was free to work at a newspaper called the Tenderloin Times, a publication that came out each month in a single quadra-lingual edition: English, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian. My duties were to sell advertising, to collect on delinquent accounts, and to create the crossword puzzle, which was only trilingual since shortly before I landed the assignment we lost our Laotian editor and translator.


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