Broadly trained as a critical social scientist, with degrees in anthropology, environmental studies, and geography, I study urban environmental change. In particular, I use the tools of ethnography and the framework of political ecology to examine processes of urban climate adaptation. Through a multi-scalar engagement with the work of metropolitan water management, I explore the patterns of spatial governance and resource flows emerging under conditions of increased ecological instability. My work offers a grounded analysis of the cultural, political, and temporal dimensions of environmental transformation.
Climate change and human efforts to adapt to the strange new conditions that it brings are reshaping urban environments around the world. My work provides insight into these ongoing processes in cultural, political, and spatial terms, developing an account of city space that reflects these radical shifts and their effects on everyday life. In doing so, I aim to both deepen understandings of how we inhabit urban places and of how we can make cities more livable for all residents.
My current research project is organized around a central question: How are efforts to adapt the urban environment to the anticipated effects of climate change shaping the politics and governance of space? Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic and archival fieldwork, I use a case study of Los Angeles's water system to examine these emergent projects and processes. L.A. currently sources roughly 90% of its potable water supply from beyond the city’s borders. But fears about the future dependability of those supplies, bolstered by regional climate predictions and protracted droughts, have spurred attempts to incorporate local stormwater and wastewater effluent into the municipal water provision system. These initiatives require redesigning both obvious sites of city infrastructure (like wastewater treatment plants and storm drains) and everyday urban spaces (like parks and yards) to capture and transform waste flows into potable water. In the process, new actors and landscapes within the city emerge as targets of state investment, discipline, and management.
For further information on publications and presentations related to this research, please see my CV.