My ethnographic research encompasses a number of themes including personhood and
place, migration, narrative identity and life-transition, community building, and
negotiations between work, family, and self in different social, historical, and
environmental contexts. Longstanding interests in career change, personal identity and
the moral meanings of work lead to my project as a postdoctoral fellow from 2004-2007 at
the Center for Ethnography of Everyday Life (an Alfred P. Sloan Center for Working
Families) on “New Work,” unconventional arrangements of work, family and community life
explored by so-called free-agents of a post-industrial economy. 

My project in Northwest Lower Michigan has explored non-economic or “life-style”
migration where downsized and downshifting corporate workers relocate as a means of
starting over. As a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia, I studied the contested nature of
constructing personally and culturally meaningful space within the process of creating
imagined and intentional community in far-flung agrarian settlements within a government
migration program. My most recent projects have considered how therapeutic ideals are
attached to particular physical settings–including purposive communities that range from
19th century moral treatment asylums to today’s new urbanist developments. I am also
continuing work concerning migration, community development, and economic restructuring
here in the Appalachian region of the United States. Despite a recent history of often
bleak economic conditions and an continued mixed prospects, the communities surrounding
Marshall University are, in many ways, perfect places to conduct research on new forms of
work, entrepreneurship, community building, and the marketing of place according to
emerging cultural and economic models that may stand in sharp contrast to the dominant
order of the Industrial Era. In an area where plant closings and grim economic forecasts
became commonplace over the past several decades, innovation which challenges
conventional wisdom should not surprise us. Innovation is often born of necessity. 

Articles

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A Simple Introduction to the Practice of Ethnography and Guide to Ethnographic Fieldnotes, Marshall University Digital Scholar (2014)

In this article, I will provide a simple introduction to the practice of ethnographic fieldwork....

 

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Place for Personhood: Individual and Local Character in Lifestyle Migration, City & Society (2010)

While drawing on literature of narrative interpretations of the construction of self and place-based, embodied...

 

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From sweet potatoes to God Almighty: Roy Rappaport on being a hedgehog (with Thomas E. Fricke), American Ethnologist (2007)

Recognized as a principal figure in ecological anthropology, Roy Rappaport is best known for his...

 

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Grey Suit or Brown Carhartt: Narrative Transition, Relocation and Reorientation in the Lives of Corporate Refugees, Journal of Anthropological Research (2006)

This article examines relocation stories of people who leave behind corporate work culture, relocate from...

 

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From Pi to Pie: Moral Narratives of Noneconomic Migration and Starting Over in the Postindustrial Midwest., Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (2005)

Research introduced here examines the impact of social and structural transitions during the past three...

 

Contributions to Books

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Theorising the ‘Fifth Migration’ in the United States: Understanding Lifestyle Migration from an Integrated Approach, Understanding Lifestyle Migration: Theorizing Approaches to Migration and the Quest for a Better Way of Life (2014)

This chapter is an empirically-informed discussion of relevant social theory for examining the phenomenon of...

 

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Roy Rappaport, Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology (2013)

Roy Abraham Rappaport, an American anthropologist recognized as a key figure in ecological anthropology and...

 

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Pursuing the Good Life: American Narratives of Travel and a Search for Refuge, Lifestyle migration: expectations, aspirations and experiences (2009)

September 11th 2001 helped create a sense of ever-present risk for many Americans. At the...

 

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American Dreaming: Refugees from Corporate Work seek the Good Life, The changing landscape of work and family in the American middle class : reports from the field (2008)

The economic restructuring and corporate downsizing that has come to define the contemporary working world...

 

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Therapeutic uses of place in the intentional space of purposive community, Therapeutic Landscapes (2007)

This chapter will explore the therapeutic uses of place within the intentional space of purposively...

 

Paper Presentations (in the MDS system)

Imagining Possibilities for Healthy Appalachian Communities in an Emerging Postindustrial Landscape, ASA Annual Conference (2014)

This paper explores how community might be re-imagined to promote incipient social and economic agendas...