I am an associate professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Augustana, a small liberal arts and sciences campus of the University of Alberta in Canada. I teach courses in social theory (classical and contemporary), as well as media & mass communication; community; film & culture. I taught visual sociology as a special topics course in 2014 and am in the process of introducing it into our curriculum as a regular offering.
My graduate degrees (MA and PhD) are from York University in Toronto. My doctoral dissertation, Public Space, Collective Desire, and the Contested City (defended in 2006), was a theoretical examination and cultural study of the boundaries of “public” space in the contemporary city, focused on Toronto. It was soon after this that I pleasantly discovered visual sociology at the New York University meetings in 2007. The conference theme that summer, “Public Views of the Private/Private Views of the Public” partly inspired the manuscript that I am presently working on. Broadly, it is an inquiry into changes in the nature and experience of public life, morality, strangers, and selfhood in our late-modern era of camera ubiquity, incessant photographing, and image mobility.
I have published work in the areas of urban culture, public space, mediated suffering, and contemporary visualizing practices. I also work in the area of radical and neo-Durkheimian theory and am co-founder of the Canadian Network of Durkheimian Studies/Réseau canadien d’études durkheimienne (CNDS/RCED), a Developing Research Cluster of the Canadian Sociological Association.
Like many (I suspect most!) of my colleagues in IVSA, I have a passion for photography, especially documentary and urban street photography; this both feeds and is fed by my sociological interest in everyday/night life, especially the public realm of strangers. I find in visual sociology an invigorating mixture of critical, imaginative and reflexive approaches to the use of images in social inquiry and research generally.
I think that the IVSA is a unique and important scholarly organization and am happy to have been elected as a board member. Since 2007, I have presented papers, organized and chaired sessions at IVSA meetings in the US, Europe and South America on topics such as street postering; image circulation and new social movements (e.g. Slutwalk); image politics and transgressive photographs. I celebrate the multidisciplinary and international character of the IVSA, and value the dialogue it supports amongst activists, artists, and scholars. Additionally, I believe that it is important to sustain the critical and grounding perspective offered by a sociological imagination.