Cultural translation

In a broad sense, much of my research looks at the movement of people and media across linguistic, cultural, national, or religious borders. To describe this movement and the transformation it entails, anthropologists and literary scholars both speak of “cultural translation,” although they don’t always agree what it means.

To explore this movement-transformation, I have been studying the forces shaping North American sitcoms about Muslims, such as Canada’s Little Mosque on the Prairie. I ask how those forces influence the choices producers make, and how producers in turn shape the form and content of their programs. I also ask how viewers interpret what they see, not only in the shows’ original markets but also in places like France or Norway where people are asking similar questions about religion in the public sphere.

My book on Little Mosque was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2017.

The Bakken project

I am working with collaborators at the University of North Dakota to talk about the changes western North Dakota is undergoing because of its oil boom and bust. Cities like Williston and Watford City (which sit atop the oil-rich Bakken formation) doubled or tripled in size between 2008 and 2014, before the price of oil dropped, and their residents are working to understand how to deal with the boom-bust cycle.

This project has two parts, at least for the time being: a book and a course I taught during the Spring 2014 semester called Communication and the Rural Community.

I plan to expand this project soon.

Media aesthetics

A few years ago, I moderated a series on the Antenna blog that asks, What can aesthetics teach us about the media?

This question grows out of my research on cultural translation. My specific interest lies in our experience of the media, especially as it influences what we understand (or think we understand) about people who appear different from us.

During the Fall 2016 semester, I taught a course on media poetics and aesthetics and storytelling.