My research interrogates the relationship between the material flows of capitalism, the risks of nature-based livelihoods, and the stability of social life in place. I focus on two groups of people: working-class communities who are directly impacted by the labor of turning nature into commodities and elites of capitalism who control the movement of capital through these places.
I received my PhD in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I am now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
My scholarship is rooted in my early experiences growing up in a former coal mining village in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains. I experienced how the past continued to impact the region as rivers ran orange from iron oxide mine waste. I saw the frustration of neighbors who loved their rural hometown, but found it increasingly emptied of jobs, grocery stores, and habitable houses. Grounded in this background, my research links the stories people tell about their places and their people within broader patterns of environmental and economic change. My field work has taken me from homesteads in Swaziland, to kitchen tables in dairyland Wisconsin, to red-dirt roads post-war northern Uganda, and most recently, to urban and rural Rust Belt communities.
These communities are participants in their own knowledge creation. I design and disseminate research using methods and mediums that are transparent, accessible, and theoretically engaged. I pair academic publications from my research with podcasts, photography, and long-form essays to connect stakeholders’ experiences with broader patterns of historical, cultural, and spatial change. Review my publications and methodologies pages for more details on this public sociology.
Contact me at mcmillanlequieu (at) drexel (dot) edu