I am a scholar of culture, place, and economic change. I am a PhD candidate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s joint departments of Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology, advised by Michael Bell. My research interrogates the relationship between structural, environmental, and economic changes and the lived experiences of home and community by long-term residents.
Specifically, I am interested in how low-income communities adapt to globalizing economies and changing environments over time, through the lens of cultural negotiation, environmental history, and economic development and undevelopment. I spent my childhood in former coal mining village in Pennsylvania’s Appalachian foothills. The economic and environmental histories of home region continued to shape the ways that residents interacted with their places. As stores closed and friends outmigrated, I felt the confusion and frustration of local people. When the waterways ran orange from iron oxide mine waste, I saw the vestiges of capitalism transforming familiar landscapes.
Thus, my research always aims to situate the stories people tell about their places and their people within patterns of macroeconomic transformation. My qualitative 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.