I'm a graduate student in historical geography at the University of Wisconsin–Madison whose work focuses on the two-way relationships that connect the landscape to ideas about society. I am broadly interested in the way that communities come to define and understand themselves through the process of transforming the environment, and, in turn, how those processes of transformation are motivated by political and moral convictions. As someone who works in both of the two great integrative disciplines in the social sciences, history and geography, I am interested in the many different forces, both material and immaterial, which work together to produce, modify, and destroy the human patterning of the earth over time. My interests are primarily in North America and Europe, during what I like to call the "really long nineteenth century," from the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake to the 1973 oil crisis.
Right now, I'm working on a dissertation which explores the problem of what size geographic areas are appropriate for community planners to deal with when trying to encompass a total set of relationships that make up a "single" place. When trying to answer this question, planners have confronted a tricky paradox. Small areas are less complex and more conducive to a sense of mutual social solidarity, but very rarely constitute a self-sufficient whole. On the other hand, large areas, while they better match the weave of interrelationships in the modern world, rarely produce a sense of shared membership. I'm interested in moments where planners and reformers have attempted to square this circle, hoping to preserve an organic sense wholeness while imagining new kinds of "units" at very different scales. Through a close historical study of proposed units which did and did not come into existence, I look at the way different thinkers approached the basic geographic problem of "unity in diversity."
I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in New Hampshire; since then, I've lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Tiranë, Albania; Nottingham, England; and Madison, Wisconsin. My fiancée, Lihlani Skipper, is a Program Associate with the National Farm to School Network.
"Making the single city: The constitutive landscape and the struggle for Greater Boston, 1891–1911." Accepted, forthcoming in Landscape Research, special issue on “Landscape histories of urbanization," Mattias Qviström, ed.
Humanities Exchange (HEX). Center for the Humanities, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2014–15. Joint award with Rebecca Summer. Public outreach grant for developing humanities projects in collaboration with community organizations.
Postgraduate Travel Bursary. Historical Geography Research Group, RGS–IBG, 2015.
Vilas Research Travel Grant. Graduate School, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2014.
Research & Travel Grant. Center for Culture, History, and Environment, 2014 and 2013.
Trewartha Conference Travel Grant. Department of Geography, 2014 and 2013.
Trewartha Research Travel Grant. Department of Geography, 2014.
Clarence W. Olmstead Citizenship Award. Department of Geography, 2013.
Robert S. Birch Student Travel Award. Society for American City & Regional Planning History, 2011.
Vilas Welcome Award. Graduate School, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2011.
Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar. US–UK Fulbright Commission, 2010–11. Funded MA program, with emphasis on scholarly cultural exchange.
Occasional Lecture Fund. British Fulbright Scholars Association, 2011.
George Peabody Gardner Traveling Fellowship. Harvard College, 2009–10. Grant awarded to one Harvard senior to pursue an independent project in an understudied country. Funded nine months of research in Albania on the changes in planning and spatial organization from communism to capitalism.
Phi Beta Kappa. Harvard Colleg, Alpha and Iota of Massachusetts, 2008 .
Harvard College Research Program. Summer research grant, 2008.