My research examines the politics of the natural and built environment, with a focus on community activism and participatory processes of urban governance.
Since 2010 I have been conducting research in Cape Town, South Africa that explores the politics of water, sanitation, and electricity infrastructures in informal settlements. This project examines how communities respond to the possibilities for, and failures of, infrastructure development through community mobilizations and everyday actions, providing ways to see the failures of development as central to new understandings of post-Apartheid citizenship. I have held local affiliations with the Anthropology Department at the University of Cape Town and the African Centre for Citizenship and Democracy at the University of the Western Cape. For the 2020-2021 academic year I was a faculty fellow for the UofL Commonwealth Center for the Humanities and Society under their focus on “The Anthropocene, Environment, and Modernity” working on this project.
In Louisville, I am the PI of a transdisciplinary project about community participation processes with partner Metro Louisville. In conjunction with colleagues in Public Health, Urban and Public Affairs, and Sociology, and student researchers, this project uses qualitative and quantitative methodologies to examine the expectations, experiences and hopes of residents as they engage with various Metro-based participatory projects. We engage directly with the racial and socio-economic foundations of structural inequality within the city, asking how histories of engagement influence ongoing participation and action. This project has been funded by the Cooperative Consortium for Transdisciplinary Social Justice Research, with whom I was a Faculty Fellow from 2017-2020.
In 2021 I began new research through the department’s Engaged Ethnography Lab, partnering with UofL’s sustainability initiatives. Undergraduate and graduate research interns on this project are working to assess work and experiences in initiatives like the Garden Commons, Cardinal Cupboard, and composting programs. I am also the current Chair of the university’s Sustainability Council and a member of the council’s Education and Research Committee.
I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Arizona with a focus on socio-cultural and applied anthropology, working with Thomas Park, James Greenberg, Susan Shaw, and Jennifer Roth-Gordon. My dissertation research was supported by a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, an Emil Haury Fellowship, and a Confluence Graduate Fellowship, with additional support from the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology, Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology, and Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute.
I teach courses in environmental anthropology and political ecology, urban anthropology, globalization and inequality, applied anthropology, and the anthropology of infrastructure, as well as regional courses focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. I utilize learner-centered pedagogies and active learning practices in all of my teaching and was honored in 2021 to receive the College of Arts & Sciences Innovative Teaching in the Social Science Award and one of the Delphi Center’s inaugural TILL Teaching Innovation Awards.
I am interested to work with graduate students focusing on theoretical or applied/engaged questions related to environmental, urban, infrastructural, political, and social movement anthropologies.