The world we live in is made up of the entanglement of social and material stuff. Separate one from the other and much of what our daily life is made up of comes apart at the seams.
I pursue my interest in the social and the material through an engagement with actor-network theory (ANT) and assemblage thinking. Noting a lack of dialogue between the two approaches, I have explored the overlaps and silences.
Most of my empirical work centres on two phenomena:
- planning mega-events (such as the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup), where I have coined the notion of mega-event syndrome
- natural disturbances (such as the bark beetle or wildfire), where I examine their challenges to our understandings of nature.
What links mega-events and natural disturbances is that they are both "events" in the sense that they cause unexpected ruptures in the socio-material fabric.
I study what I call the Global East, the globalised and globalising former socialist states, suspended between multiple transformations from socialism to neoliberalism to neopatrimonialism. Recovering the Global East, written out of both the Global North and Global South, is a key concern of my research.
I am an omnivore in terms of methods, using both multivariate statistics and qualitative methods. That said, I have developed a particular taste for the varied flavours of ethnography.
2008 Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main: PhD Human Geography
2005 University of Cambridge: MPhil Development Studies
2004 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München: BA (equiv.) Economic Geography
2017 - Université de Lausanne: Swiss National Science Foundation Professor
2013 - 2017 Universität Zürich: Swiss National Science Foundation Professor
2009 - 2013 Universität St. Gallen: Assistant Professor for Cultures, Institutions and Markets
2007 - 2009 Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main: Lecturer | Department of Human Geography
2013 - 2017 Institute for Advanced Studies (IMERA) and Centre Norbert Elias | Marseille | France
2013 - 2017 University of Birmingham | Birmingham | UK
2015 Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) | Brussels | Belgium
2013 University of Oxford | Oxford | UK
2012 University of North Carolina | Chapel Hill | USA
2010 - 2014 Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main | Frankfurt | Germany
2010 University of British Columbia (UBC) | Vancouver | Canada
My research has been covered in the New York Times, Financial Times, Newsweek, International Business Times, ABC, Inside Climate News, Toronto Star, Svenska Dagbladet, TV Rain (Russia), El Mercurio (Chile), Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Swiss Radio and Television (SRF), NZZ, Tribune de Genève and other outlets.
I am a contributor of commentaries to DIE ZEIT, Süddeutsche Zeitung, NZZ and Tages-Anzeiger.
- Vice-President of the Swiss Association of Geography
- Member of the editorial board of Political Geography
- Member of the editorial board of book series Geopolitical Bodies, Material Worlds (Rowman & Littlefield)
- Board Member of the Center for Governance and Culture in Europe at Universität St. Gallen
- Commission member of the German Merit Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)
- Co-Editor of Forum Politische Geographie