Centre Urbanisation Culture Société
385, rue Sherbrooke Est
Montréal, Québec H2X 1E3
+1 514 499-4073
Hello and welcome to my research website! I'm a geographer / urban political ecologist, and an editor of the journal Urban Geography. I recently joined the faculty at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Montréal, Québec, as an associate professor (professeur-chercheur agrégé) of urban studies.
Broadly, I'm interested in the uneven development of cities, and what this means for both people and the environment. My focus over the past several years has been on the relationship between urban agriculture, urban political economy, and social justice in North American cities. Recently I've focused primarily on the formal and 'everyday' governance of urban agriculture, as well as its entanglement in processes of 'green gentrification'. I have also focused on environmental justice issues such as soil contamination, particularly as they relate to historical land use and racialized planning processes. A new project delves into the urban political ecology of municipal solid waste management as a contested terrain of municipal climate policy. While I've conducted most of my work in conversation with debates in urban political ecology and critical urban geography, I've also engaged extensively with scholarship on food justice and food systems planning, environmental justice, and critical physical geography. Building on and complementing this work, I've more recently begun to focus on the historical and contemporary entanglements of land, property, and racial capitalism in the settler-colonial city. Click here for more on my research.
Prior to starting at INRS, I was a tenured associate professor of urban studies & planning at Portland State University, where I worked with several fabulous grad students between 2012 and 2020. They are all now off doing amazing work and I continue to collaborate with many of them. I received my PhD in geography at UC Berkeley, where my dissertation focused on soil contamination and food justice in Oakland's flatlands, and a MSc from NCSU, where I conducted agroecological research at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. I was involved in food systems work for more than two decades, as a researcher, trainer, Peace Corps volunteer, journalist, farm manager, and food policy council member, with experience in the US and Canada, Mali, Senegal, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, Nepal, Bangladesh, France, and Ireland. I continue to engage with a number of community partners through my teaching and research.
Ironically, I discovered the city and became an urbanist through agriculture. The more time I spent in the field, the clearer it became that pathways to a more just and sustainable food system are rarely technical in nature. More often, they are social questions, entangled in power structures mediated by a suite of interconnected factors: political economy, race, class, gender, and settler colonial logics, among others. Studying urban agriculture opened my eyes to these relations, to the social and material processes shaping urban space and urban life, to flows and frictions of capital, to social movements and neighborhood change, to policy and planning that have little to do with food systems at first blush, but everything to do with what makes or breaks struggles for social and environmental justice in the city. It is these struggles and the contexts in which they arise that have become my central academic focus. Urban gardens, in the end, were my gateway to something both much broader and deeper, and are for me now just one window of many through which I explore urban geographies.
The Montreal metropolitan region lies on unceded lands and waters of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), Anicinapek (Algonquin), and W8banaki (Abenaki) Nations. Tio'tia:ke / Moniak / Montréal has long been a gathering place for many First Nations, and is today home to a diverse population of Indigenous and other peoples.
Most of my English and "Scotch-Irish" (Ulster Scots) ancestors arrived in New York, Virginia, and North Carolina between the early 1600s and mid-1700s. Many of them benefitted directly (and all of them indirectly) from both the theft of Indigenous land and the stolen labor of enslaved Africans and African Americans. And, indeed, my own privilege to live where I live and to do the work I do rests on these original sins of settlement and exploitation. I believe that acknowledging whose territory we're on and our individual and collective connections to the violence of settler colonialism and slavery is both a moral obligation and a modest but important step in our efforts to construct a more just world. I've written about coming to terms with family history as part of what Jeff Corntassel (Tsalagi/Cherokee) has called "living in the longer now".