My prospective research centers on questions of urban innovation, humanitarian design, and architectural and infrastructural implementations. For this project, I plan to carry out new fieldwork in urban South Africa. I propose to analyze the lived experiences of experts such as urban designers and architects and other private and non-governmental agencies. My conceptual focus will be on “design” and its valued norms of future-making, innovation, functionality, and creativity. I will ask why and to what extent “design” has become a powerful political driving force and how it is incorporated into policy making, planning, and modes of governance.
Before joining Rice, I pursued graduate studies in Anthropology at University of Florida and earned an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Leipzig University. I came to Anthropology through my undergraduate training in Philosophy and African Studies at Humboldt University in Berlin.
In 2016, I was living in South Africa for a year in order to pursue additional graduate studies at Stellenbosch University, for which I was awarded funding by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD. During that time, I spent several months doing fieldwork with marginalized, mostly black English and IsiXhosa speaking people who live in a cordoned-off settlement close to the Stellenbosch campus. I investigated their future projections and aspirations in light of particular urban infrastructures and assemblages. I was particularly interested in the so-called iShack project, a nongovernmental project which delivers and installs sustainable solar-electricity to individual households in the settlement.