Emily Cummins is an interdisciplinary sociologist with specializations in urban studies, ethnography, and planning. She completed her PhD in sociology at Northeastern University in Boston in 2016. Her work is broadly concerned with the politics of the built environment in redeveloping cities, examining how the technical aspects of planning articulate with our social and political world. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the city of Detroit her most recent project looks at that various ways that narratives of a “future city” and grand plans for revitalization reconfigure racialized inequality in the present. Prior to this, Emily lived in southern New Mexico and worked on a number of border justice issues, including examining strategies to upgrade city services like electricity and water in the colonias, or the so-called informal neighborhoods along the U.S./Mexico border, as well as working with fair trade advocates and women’s sewing cooperatives from Chiapas, Mexico. She has published several articles in scholarly journals that utilize ethnography and combine elements from these various projects.
Emily Cummins is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Urban and Global studies. She is an interdisciplinary sociologist and urban ethnographer. Her research is focused on the politics of urban change, development, and the production of urban futures. She is currently at work on her first book manuscript, which is an ethnographic study of future and place-making in the city of Detroit. Based on 16 months of fieldwork, the book broadly examines the contestations and expulsions that that spatialize in the (re)making of urban spaces. While most of her fieldwork has taken place in the context of the post-industrial U.S., a second project uses a comparative lens to examine issues of production and urban mobility in Bangkok, Thailand and Changchun in the Jilin province in China.
Emily teaches courses on introductory urban studies, American cities, and urban community development.