Sociocultural Anthropology, Power and Expertise, Maintenance and Repair Studies, Cultures of Speed and Moto-mobility, Design, Space and Place, United States


I am a sociocultural anthropologist with training in visual and urban anthropology, social theory, and ethnography. My interests include the critical analysis of power, expertise, technology and capitalism. Before turning to anthropology, I sailed tall ships, worked as a commercial photographer, studied architecture, and served as an “aerospace maintenance technician” in the U.S. Air Force. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD my dissertation became an ethnographic study of a university-community partnership deploying urban design to foster economic and community development in low income neighborhoods. I subsequently wrote about the concept of design in American mass media, studio cultures, starchitecture,  aesthetic expertise, and the “philosopher of speed,” Paul Virilo.

Now I primarily teach courses in sociocultural and visual anthropology, focusing on contemporary American cultures of consumption and inequality. Returning to an interest in craftsmanship, maker movements, and social class, I am currently studying the status of maintenance and repair under the domination of heroic entrepreneurial innovation. Recently I focused specifically on how custom motorcycle and car maintainers and enthusiasts produce meaningful experiences through fixing, building, using, and discussing older, dirtier forms of technology, and with the help of a small shop in rural Pennsylvania, I built my own classic custom motorcycle.


Selected Publications

  • “The Maintainer as Exotic Other.”  2017.  Paper.
  • “Anthropologist as Tribologist.”  2016.  Paper.
  • “Building Integrity in a Custom Motorcycle Shop”  Photo Essay.  Futures of Visual Anthropology Conference, Temple University.  2015.
  • "What Will an Anthropology of Maintenance and Repair Look Like?”  Panel Chair and Organizer for the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association: Washington D.C.  2014.
  • “The Perfect Gift: Jeremy Bievenour’s ’38 Pan-Knuckle.”  Interview.  Greasy Kulture Magazine. 2013, 34: 48-54.
  • “Dramatizations of the Iconographic: The Film “My Architect” and the “Starchitect-Function”  Paper.  Annual meetings, American Anthropological Association; Montreal, Quebec.  2011.
  • “Convincing Visions: Designscapes, Power, and Urban Development.”  Paper.  ARchiTecture: Architecture as a Thing of Art.  October 2009: 284-293.
  • “Design as Power: Paul Virilio and the Governmentality of Design Expertise.” Article.  Culture, Theory, and Critique. 2007, 48(2): 175-198.