HELLO. I am a writer and teacher, working in the interdisciplinary intersections of anthropology of design and labor. My research focuses on rural-urban migration in China and the relationship of architecture to construction.
My project brought me to Xi'an, China, where I spent two years in fieldwork, moving between local construction sites and architectural studios. To better understand the lives of rural migrants who are employed to build China's rapidly-growing cities, I spent three months working on a high-rise building project, I lived with workers in urban village dormitories, and I traveled with rural migrants to their hometowns in the countryside. I am currently a research fellow in anthropology and architecture at the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, where I am expanding my dissertation into a manuscript.
EDUCATION AND WORK BACKGROUND
I received my doctorate in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from New York University in September 2015. I studied an undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with double degrees in Chinese Language and Literature and Journalism. Between undergraduate and graduate school, I worked in journalism and media, including a digital video start-up and five years at WBUR 90.9 Public Radio in Boston.
DISSERTATION AND RESEARCH
“China Constructs: Labor, Value and Architecture on a Chinese Construction Site" is an ethnographic account of the lives of rural migrant workers in central western China. My research explores the social distance between the practices of architectural design and the physical labor of building. To conduct this research, I received grants from The National Science Foundation (DDIG), the Social Science Research Council, (IDRF) and the Wenner Gren Foundation.
In addition to adapting "China Constructs" into a book manuscript, I have also begun preparing the groundwork for a second major research project. Taking advantage of my dual connections to China and Mexico, "China Exports" explores how trade with China is operating as a vector of social change for many non-elite merchants and traders in Mexico City. I am also working on several other preliminary ethnographic projects involving material culture of construction, and the social life of fashion in China.