I am interested in how the built environment has reflected and shaped our lives, with particular reference to dwellings and residential environments. The influence of the built environment often becomes apparent, and also changes, over long periods of time, and I have found it fruitful to undertake historical research as well as studies of the present. (I am an Associate of the Department of History at McMaster.) Dwellings frame much of our daily life and offer a valuable prism through which to study social, cultural, and economic change.
I have used, and am using, housing as a prism in two contexts:
The history of housing, neighbourhoods and suburbs in North America in the twentieth century. By studying the linkages between production and consumption of these environments it is possible to ground, and extend, recent debates about the cultural construction of the economy, and about class and gender differences in the meaning of consumption. The most recent work coming out of this research is What's in a Name? Talking about Urban Peripheries (edited with Charlotte Vorms) (Toronto, 2017). A companion volume, The Urban Land Market (coedited with Ute Lehrer) will be published in 2018. My main writing project at present is a history of neighbourhoods and neighbourhood planning in Canada since 1900.
- The current housing scene in Hamilton, Ontario, paying particular attention to the character of the rental stock. Students have interviewed landlords and tenants, and are undertaking an analysis of the growth of condominiums and of patterns of ownership of the rental housing stock. Projected research will examine social and affordable housing. The results of these studies are being interpreted in the context of an analysis of the changing social geography of hamilton since 1970. This research is being undertaken in association with the Neighbourhood Change Research Project, directed by David Hulchanski at the University of Toronto. This project is examining neighbourhood change in seven Canadian cities.
Housing; Suburban development; Urban social geography; Urban historical geography; Canadian and US cities in the twentieth century; Urban development in the British colonies.