As an undergraduate, I was educated in comparative studies in society and history at Cornell and received a Ph. D. in sociology from Binghamton University. My principal focus of interest over the past few years has been understanding forms of social power as they change over time, and the way economic systems intertwine with cultural forms in those transformations. I am particularly interested in development processes viewed from a broadly comparative and historical perspective, together with the various theories that attempt to account for them.
My research program seeks to advance knowledge of the historical sociology and political ecology of development processes. My overarching research program is constituted by three interlocking projects: (i) the critical rethinking of the conceptual framework of development through the reconstruction and elaboration of the idea of "uneven and combined development"; (ii) the systematic deployment of this theory to elucidate various aspects of state, economy, and society in northeast Africa so as to better understand their developmental trajectories; (iii) and, thirdly, the extension of this the theory of uneven and combined development to the metabolic relations between society and nature.
Outreach and Extension Focus
Although my appointment is divided between research and teaching and does not formally contain an outreach component, by inclination and in the nature of the scholarly work I am engaged in, outreach constitutes an integral part of my research program. Informed by the ideal that better knowledge can help forge a better future, I see my scholarship as situated within the best tradition of public sociology, one that is motivated by a desire to make a positive impact on the thinking and practice of scholars, policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and civil society groups.
Presentations and Activities
- The Long Revolution: 1974 from the Perspective of 1991. The Ethiopian Revolution at 40. November 2014. International Institute for Social History. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
- Land Enclosures: Implications for Water. Water Scarcity, Risk and Democracy in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. April 2013. Global Water Partnership. Athens, Greece.
- Massawa: Politics and Culture in a Red Sea Emporium. IFRIQIYYA Colloquium. April 2011. Institute for African Studies and the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies. Columbia University.
- New Enclosures. Roundtable on New Enclosures. April 2011. Organization of Cornell Planners. Miller-Heller House, Ithaca, NY.
- Development by Dispossession: Land Grabbing as New Enclosures in Contemporary Ethiopia. International Conference on Global Land Grabbing. April 2011. Institute of Development Studies. Sussex University, Brighton UK.