Daina Cheyenne Harvey


Sociology and Anthropology Department

Associate Professor
Ph.D., Rutgers University

Fields: Social Disruption/Dislocation; Social Suffering; Agrarianism, the Post-Pastoral, & Food Geographies; The Environmental Precariat; Critical Race Studies; Political Ecology; Urban Marginality; Social Justice; Culture & Cognition; Symbolic Interaction


Email: dharvey@holycross.edu
Office: Beaven 231

Daina Cheyenne Harvey earned a B.B.A (Finance) and a Double B.A. (Philosophy and Economics) from the University of Texas-Austin, a M.A. (Sociology) from the University of Houston, and a Ph.D. (Sociology) from Rutgers University. He is the author of over 50 articles, chapters, and reviews, and recently the co-editor of Beer Places: The Microgeographies of Craft Beer.

Fall Course(s):

Social Statistics (226)                                                                                                                    


I’m currently at various stages on a couple of projects.

The first is a book tentatively titled Black Ecologies: Diversity and Humanitarian Entanglements in a Post-Disaster Society (under contract with Bristol University Press). This book uses the long-term aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to demonstrate the failure we have in thinking about Black communities. Unlike most work on diversity, that looks at people of color integrating white spaces, this book looks at what happened in the Lower Ninth Ward—ground zero for Hurricane Katrina—when white actors ventured into Black spaces. While the inability to imagine Black spaces as anything other than pejorative results in everyday problems, the long-term aftermath of Hurricane Katrina offered almost laboratory conditions for examining this phenomenon. As well-meaning whites rushed in to help rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward, issues of diversity, race, and the “other” became paramount. This book looks at why the presence of whites was tolerated, and at times welcomed, but also problematized issues relating to diversity. In doing so it highlights the failure of a Black imaginary. Ultimately, through interviews and conversations I posit that we need a Black imaginary in environmental studies and need to begin to think of what the concept of a Black ecology has to offer for understandings of race, the environment, and diversity.

David G. Embrick and I are editing a volume titled The Handbook of Humanist Sociology (under contract with Palgrave). This handbook will reaffirm the need for a humanist approach to sociology which we see as a value-oriented, activist doing of sociology, largely opposed to mainstream or traditional, value-free sociology. With contributions in theory, methods, pedagogy, pragmatism, and everyday life, the Handbook will offer the reader a comprehensive understanding of humanist sociology. This Handbook comes at an important time. Recent attacks on professors, education, academia, social justice, science, and activism render the need to revisit a humanist orientation to sociology. This handbook will consist of over thirty-five chapters written by humanist sociologists.

I am also working on a documentary (Wild Apples, Wild World: The Future Apple for our Future Climate) about issues with New England apples in a warming world. Apples have a particular mnemonic resonance to most New Englanders, being a key component of the mythos of New England’s foodways (Muckenhoupt, 2020). Most New Englanders from first grade on can proudly tell the story of Johnny Appleseed and show you on a map where his hometown of Leominster, MA, is located. The industrialization of our food system has dramatically reduced the variety of foodways, and perhaps nowhere else is this as apparent than with apples. A hundred years ago, there were thousands of varieties of apples, while today only a handful dominate the market in the US and elsewhere. Likewise, climate change has prompted concern regarding the diversity of apples. Most of the apples we have today have been selected for color (i.e. redness), durability rather than taste, and certainly not sustainability or resistance to climate change. In Walden Warming, Richard Primack (2014) notes that wild apples now flower two to four weeks earlier than they did when Henry David Thoreau wrote about them in the 1850s. Concerns about climate change and apple diversity have prompted two burgeoning movements. The first takes place in the lab where scientists are engineering climate resistant apples. The second takes place in fields and farms, especially where development has occurred and trees have been “lost” or with “wild” apples (apples that are “uncultivated” (Brennan, 2020)--i.e. from “found” trees, pippings/seedlings) where foragers, especially cider makers, are looking for apples that have successfully grown for years without human intervention. This documentary is focused on the latter, in particular on how cider makers and orchardists in New England are preparing for climate change.  

We use the term ruderal to denote species that adapt (and even flourish) in disturbed areas; think vegetation that takes over after serial bombings or that creep up in alleys or cracks in concrete; mushrooms that grow in the aftermath of a forest fire; what becomes of factories and parking lots in the aftermath of deindustrialisation. As Cowles notes the ruderal is often seen in a pejorative way: as invasive, as weeds, as non-native. The ruderal exists on the edge; straddling ecosystems--the wild and the domesticated, the planned and un-planned, the past and the future. This work stems from my interest in the socio-ecological life around us that often goes unnoticed. It combines my experiences in the Lower Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures (both ecological abandonment and urban farming) with an interest in invasive species and foraging. My attempt here is to reimagine what it means to be ruderal--particularly as it involves non-human and human relations, especially as ecological crises become the new normal; and as Stoetzer notes, looking at the back-stories of racial exclusions, economic collapse, and interrupted futures and away from ruins as objects, in other words as a ruination, a process--and the socio-environmental implications of that process. The Ruderal will be both an art exhibition of contemporary work that examines ruderal imagery, imaginaries, and aesthetics, and a multi-disciplinary edited volume.

While Worcester is probably not viewed as a food city (yet), it is an interesting place to situate current food movements. Nation-wide we are witnessing the rise of slow foods, locavorism, attempts to connect farms to schools, attempts to reduce food apartheid, and the desire to regionalize food systems and become food sovereign. In this multi-faceted project, I examine how these movements, and others, are taking root in Worcester and the surrounding areas. Part of this project, tentatively titled Food City, involves a multi-year study of the farm to school movement. In particular I look at the role of school gardens in connecting farmers and food producers to schools and raising awareness of inequalities in the food system. I also look at how nonprofits, neighborhood groups, and community stakeholders work to increase food availability in Worcester. Finally, I look at the role of farmers and restaurants in promoting New England foodways. 

Since the Great Recession there has been an increased awareness in wealth inequality. Unlike income inequality, which has ebbed over time, the racial wealth gap has barely changed since emancipation. In the last decade, wealth inequality between whites and blacks has actually increased. Furthermore the wealth gap exists regardless of education, age, or income. Currently black wealth is less than 10% of white wealth. If left to the market, it would take 200 years for black wealth to equal current white wealth. The difference in wealth goes far beyond opportunity hoarding; it can’t be explained by theories that focus on the life cycle or culture(s), risk, or stratification. Studies have shown that even if non-whites earned the same income as whites, received similar inheritances, and earned similar rates of return on investments, the wealth gap would only change moderately. The only explanation for this gap is a racialized system of policies that promote the extraction of wealth from non-whites by a white power structure. Along with my colleagues on this project, called Colonizing Wealth, I argue that the wealth gap is the result of a past, and more importantly, a current system of white supremacy; capitalism, particularly as it regards wealth, can only be understood in America as racial capitalism. From this project we hope to expose and explore the myriad mechanisms that have created and sustain wealth disparities between white and non-white communities.

If you are a student and would like to work on anything related to any of these projects/areas, please contact me.