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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 current book project, Forgotten in Anticipation: Baltimore After Progress, 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.
My emerging work 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 Forgotten in Anticipation, this work combines ethnographic research with intensive archival study, contributing to a research program that lies at the intersection of anthropology and urban history.
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.
Environmental anthropology, political anthropology, science and technology studies, industrialism, climate change, time and temporality, urban history, United States
- ANTHR 1101 : FWS: Culture, Society, and Power
- ANTHR 4910 : Independent Study: Undergrad I
- ANTHR 4920 : Independent Study: Undergrad II
- ANTHR 4983 : Honors Thesis Research
- ANTHR 7910 : Independent Study: Grad I
- ANTHR 7920 : Independent Study: Grad II
- ANTHR 7930 : Independent Study: Grad III
“Postindustrial Futures and the Edge of the Frontier.” Accepted at Anthropological Quarterly.
“Waste-to-Energy: Garbage Prospects and Subjunctive Politics in Late-industrial Baltimore.” 2019. American Ethnologist 46(3): 328–42.
Winner of the Anthropology and Environment Society's 2019 Junior Scholar Award
“‘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 Quarterly48(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.
"Toxic Disavowal." 2020. Somatosphere, January 20.
Interview with Alize Arıcan. 2019. Features, American Ethnologist, September 20.
“America’s Post-industrial Futures.” 2018. Photo essay for Sapiens. November 28.
Interview with Alexandra Vieux Frankel. 2018. Dialogues, Cultural Anthropology, June 19.
“Trump’s Slogan: More About the ‘Make’ Than the ‘Great.’” 2017. Op Ed for Sapiens. April 25. With Vincent Ialenti.
“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.
“On Not Being Seen.” 2016. Part of a series called “Ethnographer as Advocate.” Haley Bryant and Emily Cain, eds. Anthropology News. February 17.
“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.