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About Brian A. Hoey, Ph.D.

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.


July 2018 - Present Associate Dean, Marshall University Honors College
August 2012 - Present Faculty Affiliate, Marshall University International Health Track, Department of Family and Community Health
August 2007 - Present Professor of Anthropology, Marshall University Department of Sociology & Anthropology

Curriculum Vitae

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Honors and Awards

  • Emerging Crises Oral History Research Fund Grant
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Early Career Work and Family Scholar
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Center for the Study of Working Families Fellowship
  • Fulbright Fellowship to the Republic of Indonesia
  • United States Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship


  • US Culture and the Changing Family
  • Disease in Evolutionary and Cultural History
  • Human Ecology
  • Health, Culture and Society
  • Ethnographic Research
  • Disaster, Culture & Health
  • Design Planning & Health
  • Culture and Environment
  • Cultural Anthropology


1994 - 2002 PhD, University of Michigan ‐ Anthropology
September 1993 - June 1994 Certificate in Indonesian Language, Fellow, Cornell University ‐ Southeast Asia Program, FALCON
1986 - 1990 BA, College of the Atlantic ‐ Human Ecology

Contact Information

Department of Sociology and Anthropology
College of Liberal Arts
Marshall University
One John Marshall Drive
Huntington, West Virginia
Voice 304.696.3747 | Fax 304.696-2803


Articles (13)

Books (1)

Contributions to Books (8)

Paper Presentations (in the MDS system) (2)