PO Box 751-USP
Portland, OR 97207 USA
Tel: +1 503 725 4064
Hello and welcome to my research website! I'm an urban geographer and Associate Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning at Portland State University and affiliated faculty in the Departments of Geography and Sociology. I'm also an editor of the journal Urban Geography. After eight fantastic years at PSU, I'm excited to be joining the faculty at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Montréal, Québec in August 2020.
Broadly, I'm interested in the uneven development of cities, and what this means for people and the environment. Using the analytical lens of urban political ecology, 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. This work led me to also engage with scholarship on food justice and food systems planning, environmental justice, and critical physical geography. Over the past few years, I've focused predominantly on how such processes are entangled with "green gentrification". Building on and complementing this work, I've more recently begun to focus my attention on the historical and contemporary entanglements of land, property, and racial capitalism in the settler-colonial city. Click here for more on my research.
I received my PhD in geography at UC Berkeley in 2011, 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 internationally (Canada, Mali, Senegal, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, Nepal, Bangladesh, France, 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.
Portland, Oregon, where I live and work, lies on the traditional lands and waters of the Multnomah, Clackamas, and Atfalati (Tualatin Kalapuya), and other bands and nations who made their homes along the Columbia River, and who the US government forcibly removed to reservations in the 1850s. Today, people from these bands and tribes belong to the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. 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 that I do rests on these original sins of settlement. 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.