Research

I study the lived experiences of social and economic change including the cultural processes of deindustrialization. My research asks how people and communities dialogue about cultural, historical, and media representations of themselves. I take a leadership role in community media projects as a founder, media producer, developer, writer, and editor.

As a multi-year ethnographic project, my dissertation research, “In the Shadow of ‘King Coal,’” explores the restructuring of Pennsylvania’s de-industrialized Anthracite Coal Region—a restructuring that involves the Coal Region’s scalar and spatial positioning, mediated imaginaries of the community, ethnic relations, and issues of capital accumulation and economic abandonment. The dissertation focuses on the region’s cultural processes, which are intensely local but also linked to wider circulations of capital and media: out-migration of youth, in-migration of new residents, mediated representations of “Appalachia,” and the social memory of mining labor and mine-related violence. The project incorporates autoethnographic writing along with more traditional ethnographic approaches to communication research given that I grew up amongst family who labored in the local mines and I hail from the Anthracite Coal Region written about in this study.

Other recent academic work has included the organization of a panel exploring the place of ethnography—as method and as epistemological orientation—in communication scholarship, a conference paper focusing on multi-modal language environments in field research, a publication on language use in women’s graffiti, an academic journal paper on candidate coherence in political speech (incorporating discourse analysis and film analysis methods), a film analysis publication studying a series of Colombian national films, an essay on critical ethnography (in press) for the International Communication Association Research Methods Handbook, and the study of collective memory including several papers examining public monuments and vernacular memorialization.