Ethnography of empire; the everyday life of liberalism; race, health, and the environment; cities and infrastructure; bureaucracy and administration; the materiality of activism and expertise
United States: Florida City: Tampa, Miami, Southern California
Working Group: Political Assembly
My research focuses on the spatial dimensions of social inequality and the material bases of political life in North America. I am especially interested in the intersection of racial and environmental forms of injustice in the US South and Southwest, where I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork since 2014. After completing my PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in 2017, I have held a number of teaching and research positions at Anglia Ruskin University, University of South Florida, and Aarhus University. I will be formally joining the Department ‘Anthropology of Politics and Governance’ in February 2022.
My current book project, “Affective Enclosures: Administration and Alienation in America's Next Great City”, examines the interface of race, emotion, and bureaucracy in the context of urban redevelopment in Tampa, Florida. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with city officials, employees, activists, and developers, the project shows how the affective aspects of municipal administration constitute a site of significant social struggle that matters greatly for what gets built, where, for whom, and with what effects. The resulting book will focus in particular on how the region's long history of trade, empire, migration, and violence continues to reverberate within contemporary spaces of city-building and urban life more broadly. In doing so, the book will rethink the entanglement of apparently "liberal" and "illiberal" modes of urban governance in the postwar North American city.
Moving forward, I am currently in the early stages of developing two research projects. The first is an ethnographic investigation of the political ecology of heat and heat-related distress in the US South. The second focuses on the US municipal police department and its relations with other sites of settler-colonial power in order to understand how bureaucratic practices are called upon to manage the boundary between licit and illicit forms of political violence within liberal democracies. In each case, I bring an ethnographic attention to the ways in which infrastructures, institutions, and the material world more broadly are recruited as sites of power, resistance, and social transformation.
My research has been funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the US-UK Fulbright Commission, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. It has appeared in journals such as American Ethnologist, the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and Society & Space.