I am a geographer, with research and teaching interests that span architecture, cultural studies, performance studies, public health, and environmental justice. My work has explored several interrelated areas: The politics of nature conservation, environmental memory, labor/compensation issues, and waste at decommissioned military sites and nuclear facilities in the western United States and beyond; urban sustainability and eco-cities in postsocialist urban China; cities in aftermath/environmental, juridical, and financial disasters; and, lastly, biomedicine, specifically environmental biomonitoring, medical hot spotting, and geographies of medical waste. These diverse and multi-scalar areas are drawn together through an overarching focus on spectacle and waste, political economy and biopolitics, critical and feminist theory, cultural politics, queer ecology, materiality and ethics. Collaboration and performative methodologies, such as absurdist humor and institutional mimicry, are central to my practice.
My book Hot Spotter’s Report: Military Fables of Toxic Waste (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) utilizes empirical research and creative nonfiction to examine how the biopolitics of war promotes the idea of a postmilitary and postnuclear world, naturalizing toxicity and limiting human relations with the past and the land. Exposing “hot spots” of contamination, in part by satirizing government reports, the book argues that U.S. militarism obscures the domestic remains of war, and seeks to cultivate ethical responses and coalitional possibilities.
I am working on two co-authored books, Waste Complex: Capital, Ecology, Sovereignty with C. Greig Crysler (University of California-Berkeley), and Deadly Life-making: US Biocultures and the Ethics of Living On with Nadine Ehlers (University of Sydney). My research has been published in such venues as Society and Space, Antipode, Public Culture, Radical History Review, Liminalities, cultural geographies, Theory, Culture & Society, Configurations, and Medicine, Conflict and Survival. My article “The Biopsic Adventures of Mammary Glam: Breast Cancer Detection and the Practice of Cancer Glamor” appears as part of the guest-edited volume “The Body in Breast Cancer” in Social Semiotics 22.1 (with Nadine Ehlers). SAGE’s 2012 Handbook of Architectural Theory includes my co-authored chapter on theories of spectacle and branding (with Stefan Al, University of Pennsylvania).
A collaborative long-term art project “The National Toxic Land/Labor Conservation Service” (with Sarah Kanouse, Northeastern University) works at the intersection of art, research, and government policy to address the toxic afterlife of U.S. militarism. The agency received a 2016 Pilot Research Project Grant from Georgetown University and a 2013 Obermann Center for Advanced Studies Interdisciplinary Research Grant at the University of Iowa; was included in the 2011 George Mason University exhibition “Ecocultures” and in the Institute for Wishful Thinking, Momenta Arts, NYC; and has held public workshops for the National Cold War Monuments and Environmental Heritage Trail (NCWM-EHT) at the IDEA Space of Colorado College in March 2016 and at FigureOne Gallery and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in October 2013. Future appearances include the traveling show “Monument to Cold War Victory” during 2014-17 (Cooper Union, NYC, October 2014; Wende Museum, Los Angeles, 2017).
I am currently employed as Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Culture and Politics Program at Georgetown University, where I teach courses on critical geography, cultural theory, green politics, global cities, biopolitics, landscape arts, and the politics of exhibitions. I received my Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California-Berkeley and hold an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University.