Thanks for taking the time to learn a bit more about me and my work. This page is designed to tell you about who I am and where I come from, to highlight some of the work I haven’t linked to in the main page, and to put all the pieces together in .
Born and raised in California, I spent a decade working in social services, immigrant rights advocacy, tenant organizing, housing policy and community development in both Northern California and New York City. During this time I trained as an urban planner, and my writing works to combine the critical eye of an academic with the needs of practitioners, policymakers and activists to take important steps forward. I hold a BA in History from Stanford University, an MA in Urban Planning from Hunter College, City University of New York, and a PhD in City & Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
I have lived in Europe since 2011, both in France and the UK. Since 2013, I have been based at the School of Geography at the University of Leeds as a Lecturer in Urban Geography. I am also Adjoint Assistant Professor of Planning at the University of Colorado Denver, and an affiliate of the Centre Emile Durkheim at Sciences Po Bordeaux. I have taught in varying capacities at Sciences Po Paris, Sciences Po Bordeaux and the Université de Cergy Pointoise.
It has been an amazing ride, and I have learned a lot from almost a decade outside the United States. I am currently transitioning back to California, and particularly welcome inquiries about California-based projects.
Primary Research and Writing Interests
My primary focus is the past, present and future of the State of California. My book The Road to Resegregation: Northern California and the Failure of Politics, was published in October 2018. The book brings together almost a decade of writing on the San Francisco Bay Area into a full length account of how one of the wealthiest and most progressive regions in the world resegregated over the course over the course of my lifetime. I am spending as much time in California as possible these days talking about the book, and you can find more information about talks here and the book itself here. An interview in Metropolitics about the book is available here. For a complete list of essays, articles and papers about California and elsewhere, visit my academic website at the University of Leeds.
My other main focus is on developing better housing policy in the United States, work that brings me back to my roots as a housing organizer in New York City. Over the past two years I have led a project developing a novel means of doing housing analysis based on tenure diversity and vulnerability. Vulnerability analysis enables any jurisdiction to understand the many ways in which people are vulnerable to losing their homes, which varies far more than most people realize. Click here to read more about Housing Vulnerability Analysis.
Additional Writing Projects
Along with colleagues Jake Wegmann and Deirdre Pfeiffer, with whom I collaborated on the housing tenure work, I am continuing to produce academic work focused on housing. One new area which is just beginning to see the light of day is a project examining the generally unexplored relationship between housing policy and electoral politics. The first paper in that series was featured in CityLab.
I have a long-standing interest in urban discourse, and in particular how and why and to what end we say mean things about places. I am thrilled to have published a recent article in the Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers led by Alice Butler, which examines what people in the UK mean when they call a place a “shithole”. The work was featured in an article in The Conversation, and we are currently working with our colleague Lex Comber to see if machine learning can build on this research. I also recently published a collaborative piece (including Leeds’ Giorgia Aiello) in the French bilingual journal Metropolitiques which looks at race and visual representations of new housing developments in French cities. This work combines my interest in discourse with a growing collaboration with the French scholar Yohann Le Moigne, work that includes another recently published work (with sociologist Greg Smithsimon) on the Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis.
While most of my work focuses on urban politics in some way, I am a historically-minded political economist, and have recently moved to develop the economic side of my work more significantly. My first major contribution in this area focuses on challenging and replacing “three-sector theory”, the World War II-era notion that gave us the idea of the services sector. The paper, “Replacing the services sector and three-sector theory: Urbanization and control as economic sectors“, is the product of five years of writing and rewriting, and was co-authored with colleagues from across three different disciplines. I particularly welcome inquiries about this paper, as we are working to develop an empirical project to test and refine various ideas in the paper.
Along related lines, I have recently completed a new book entitled The Spatial Contract for Manchester University Press. Co-authored with the Leeds energy geographer Stephen Hall and the political philosopher Matthew Noah Smith, the book develops a framework for building a healthier political economy of foundational urban systems like water, energy, food, transportation and housing. A (very partial) working paper can be found on the foundational economy website, and the book should be out in late 2019 or early 2020. More information about the book will be available shortly.
I am always actively looking for collaborators, and welcome inquiries from anyone curious about my work in any way.