Chloe Ahmann

Assistant Professor


I am an environmental anthropologist studying the long afterlife of American industry. My work is based in Baltimore, where I follow industrialism’s enduring traces in toxified landscapes, patchy regulation, quotidian expressions of white supremacy, and particular orientations toward time. I am especially interested in what kinds of environmental futures take form amid these legacies. 

In my forthcoming book, Futures After Progress: Hope and Doubt in Late Industrial Baltimore, I explore the residues of future-oriented governance on the south side of the city. Moving from the area’s 19th century life as a quarantine zone through its more recent past as the proposed site for “renewable” energy projects, I track harm done in the name of progress. I also consider what it feels like to be an industrial subject living on the cusp of the postindustrial era, with that hoped-for future freshly out of reach. By following people’s efforts to plant their feet at the end of that world—to imagine futures after progress—the book seeks insight into the paths we might yet take to approach climate catastrophe. 

I am also pursuing two new projects. One stays in Baltimore but takes a more explicit turn toward climate change governance, investigating efforts to steel the city for increasingly strange weather. In this project, I study how vacant homes and crumbling infrastructure are being reimagined as “systemic vulnerabilities.” Like Futures After Progress, this work combines ethnographic research with intensive archival study, contributing to a research program that lies at the intersection of anthropology and urban history. 

The second project concerns the rising tide of ecofascist sentiments in the United States, focusing on the dark utopian visions that sustain them, as well as their adherents’ anti-modernist critiques.

My research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. I also serve on the editorial board for Anthropological Quarterly. At Cornell, I teach courses on time, environment, and research design that draw together fiction, film, critical theory, and ethnographic texts, approaching anthropology as a capacious mode of inquiry.


Books and Edited Collections

Futures After Progress: Hope and Doubt in Late Industrial Baltimore. Approved and undergoing final revisions. University of Chicago Press.

“Vacancy.” 2022. Anthropological Quarterly 95(2): 241–474. 

“Breathing Late Industrialism.” 2020. Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 6: 416–590. (Co-edited with Alison Kenner.) 

Peer-Reviewed Articles

“Vacancy: An Introduction.” 2022. Anthropological Quarterly 95(2): 241–76. 

“Postindustrial Futures and the Edge of the Frontier.” 2022. Anthropological Quarterly 95(2): 277–310. 

“Dissociation.” 2022. Part of a peer-reviewed forum called “The Vertiginous: Temporalities and Affects of Living in Vertigo.” Daniel M. Knight, Fran Markowitz, and Martin Demant Frederiksen, eds. Anthropological Theory Commons, June 3. 

"Atmospheric Coalitions: Shifting the Middle in Late Industrial Baltimore." 2020. Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 6: 462–85.

"Breathing Late Industrialism." 2020. Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 6: 416–38. (Co-authored with Alison Kenner.)

"Unbelonging: The Politics of Address." 2020. Part of a peer-reviewed forum called "Futile Political Gestures." Galina Stjepanovic, ed. Anthropological Theory Commons, October 16. 

“Waste-to-Energy: Garbage Prospects and Subjunctive Politics in Late-industrial Baltimore.” 2019. American Ethnologist 46(3): 328–42.

“‘It’s exhausting to create an event out of nothing.’ Slow Violence and the Manipulation of Time.” 2018. Cultural Anthropology 33(1): 142–71. 

“Accountable Talk: ‘Real’ Conversations in Baltimore City Schools.” 2017. Anthropology and Education Quarterly 48(1): 77–97. 

“‘…And That’s Why I Teach For America’: American Education Reform and the Role of Redemptive Stories.” 2016. Text & Talk 36(2): 111–31. 

“Teach For All: Storytelling ‘Shared Solutions’ and Scaling Global Reform.” 2015. Education Policy Analysis Archives 23(45): 1–27.

Book Reviews

The Sustainability Myth: Environmental Gentrification and the Politics of Justice by Melissa Checker.” 2021. Political and Legal Anthropology Review 44(2): 106–8. 

“Define and Rule: Native as Political Identity by Mahmood Mamdani.” 2013. Anthropological Quarterly 86(3): 927–33. 

Essays, Podcasts, and Public Scholarship

Author of public and written testimony on the CSX coal terminal explosion. 2022. Baltimore City Council Investigatory Hearing, June 15. (Beginning at 56:30 minutes into linked recording.)

Guest (with Rasheeda Green) on "Geographies of Privilege." 2021. Episode of Crossroads podcast, May 19.

Interviewed (by Kate Blackwood) for "Ahmann Co-edits Journal Issue on 'Late Industrialism.'" 2020. Cornell Chronicle, November 30.

Work featured on "Let it Burn." 2020. Episode of Crossroads podcast, June 16.

Author of "Toxic Disavowal." 2020. Somatosphere, January 20.

Interviewed (by Alize Arıcan) for "Features." 2019. American Ethnologist, September 20.  

Author of “America’s Post-industrial Futures.” 2018. Photo essay for Sapiens. November 28. 

Interviewed (by Alexandra Vieux Frankel) for "This Was An Event." 2018. Dialogues, Cultural Anthropology, June 19. 

Guest (with David Giles and Elana Resnick) on "Episode 8." 2018. Conversations in Anthropology podcast, February 11.

Author (with Vincent Ialenti) of “Trump’s Slogan: More About the ‘Make’ Than the ‘Great.’” 2017. Op Ed for Sapiens. April 25.  

Author of “The Incinerator Does Not Exist: Sensory Engagement with Toxic Potentials.” 2017. Part of a series called “Sensory Engagements with a Toxic World.” Chisato Fukuda, ed. Second Spear, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, March 29. 

Author of “On Not Being Seen.” 2016. Part of a series called “Ethnographer as Advocate.” Haley Bryant and Emily Cain, eds. Anthropology News. February 17. 

Interviewed (by Diane Stopyra) for "The Great Garbage Fire Debate: Should We be Burning Our Trash into Energy?" 2017. Salon, January 2.

Author of “Curtis on the Bay: Failed Development and the Mythology of Trump.” 2016. Part of a series called “Crisis of Liberalism.” Dominic Boyer, ed. Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology. November 30.

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Courses - Fall 2022