Three distinct projects make up my research agenda- I look for parallels between them in search of innovative frameworks within which to analyze urbanization as an ongoing social process that challenges human behavior.
Oakland’s Spatial Development
Oakland’s spatial development, especially as its city government is forced to respond to changing economic markets and the renewal of the built environment, remains deeply interesting. Robert Self may have written the book on its urban history, yet an additional layer of analysis as it pertains to the history of its infrastructure warrants further research, i.e. freeways and the car culture they developed as ways to address and interact with power.
Urban Space as Public Life in Fresno, CA and the Central Valley
Open urban space like parkland, downtown plazas and public squares endure as sites of social reproduction. Public spaces are increasingly becoming private, like shopping malls and other specific economic zones, or increasing virtual. Is Reddit our new public plaza where people interact, and does the medium’s discussion threads replace the physical interaction we used to have 50 years ago? Memory of the built environment is also a major interest, as social memory reflects a shared narrative that gets reproduced by us in textbooks and official documents that then become the dominant history of ourselves. These thoughts and theory will be part of my ongoing dissertation project, an ethnographic analysis of the revitalization of the Fresno Fulton Mall project in downtown Fresno, CA.
Participate Here! Complete the Survey Memory on the Mall through Google Forms
Water Policy in California
Finally, I am interested in the history of water in the Central Valley as a contestation of power relationships. Other academic disciplines (political science, development studies, public health and economics) have shown that creating interventions to change behavior (and share resources like water) are increasingly difficult to enact, let alone foster political will to do so. Charting the unfolding political process, like 2015's water crisis in East Tulare County, while analyzing the historical power relationships about resource allocation is worthy of intensive ethnographic, qualitative inquiry.
I don't own these images!