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Questions about what ethnography is and does—as an aesthetic genre, political practice, and interpersonal field of knowledge construction—are at the center of my teaching and scholarly work. Trained as an anthropologist, I am committed to a transdisciplinary vision of ethnography as a mode of inquiry at the cutting edge of queer theory, ethnic studies, performance studies, environmental studies, and public humanities. In this spirit, I direct Yale’s Initiative on Ethnography and Oral History, which, in conjunction with a graduate student working group, explores intersections between anthropology and cultural studies, including historical, literary, and psychoanalytic styles of analysis. My research focuses on embodied knowledge and social trauma under regimes of labor that are marginalized by transformations in global capitalism. The End of the Line: Lost Jobs, New Lives in Postindustrial America and Debt and Dispossession: Farm Loss in America’s Heartland are community studies, respectively, of deindustrialization and the demise of family farm agriculture. My documentary film Black Land Loss examines African American farmers’ class action lawsuit against the USDA. And Guitar Makers: The Endurance of Artisanal Values in North America chronicles the rise of a countercultural lutherie movement in the United States and Canada. My current work tracks the affects, materialities, and temporalities that subtend the postindustrial imaginary. Among other honors, I received the Margaret Mead Award of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology for writing that reaches broadly concerned publics.
The End of the Line: Lost Jobs, New Lives in Postindustrial America
Debt and Dispossession: Farm Loss in Rural America
Guitar Makers: The Endurance of Artisanal Values in North America