Since the mid-1990s I have conducted ethnographic research on UNESCO world heritage sites, urban restoration programs, and their relationships to national histories and racial politics in Brazil. This gave rise to my first book, Revolt of the Saints: Memory and Redemption in the Twilight of Brazilian 'Racial Democracy.' In addition to ongoing work on heritage, race and ethnographic approaches to history and historicity in Latin America, I am currently involved in two new projects. The first, Under English Eyes, examines the ways Africans who arrived on the final slave ship to dock in the city of Salvador, Bahia experienced Brazil's 19th century transition to ostensibly free labor. The second, Hunters of the Sourlands, is a somewhat iconoclastic foray into human-animal relations and the politics of property and nature in the contemporary U.S. The project is based on experiences with hunters of white-tail deer, state game officials, and scientists involved in wildlife biology in central New Jersey. I seek to understand more clearly how recent economic changes have altered landscapes in ways that affect both national politics and the ecology of North American woodlands. This project articulates closely with my ongoing examination of U.S. imperial politics, which gave rise to my most recent book, a volume co-edited with Carole McGranahan and entitled Ethnographies of U.S. Empire (Duke University Press, 2018)
In addition to my research and teaching at Queens and CUNY Graduate Center, I currently serve as Co-Chair of the Columbia University Brazil Seminar. From 2012-2018 I directed Queens College's Program in Latin American and Latino Studies. LALS plays an extremely important and promising role in the intellectual life of Queens as a College and Queens as a borough.
2018. Ethnographies of US Empire. Durham: Duke University Press (Co-edited with Carole McGranahan).
2016. Sharing This Walk: An Ethnography of Prison Life and the PCC in Brazil. University of North Carolina Press. (John Collins' translation and new edition of the ethnography by anthropologist Karina Biondi and published originally in Brazil as Junto e misturado: uma etnographia do PCC).
2015. Revolt of the Saints: Memory and Redemption in the Twilight of Brazilian "Racial Democracy." Duke University Press. (awarded the Leeds Award for exemplary book in anthropology)
2014. "Policing's Productive Folds: Secretism and Authenticity in Brazilian Cultural Heritage." Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 19(3):473-501.2012. "Reconstructing the 'Cradle of Brazil:' The Detachability of Morality and the Nature of Cultural Labor in Salvador, Bahia's Pelourinho World Heritage Site." International Journal of Cultural Property 19(3): 423-452.