Sociology and Anthropology Department
Fields: Risk; Social Disruption; Social Suffering; Food, Beer, and Agriculture; Climate; The Environmental Precariat; Critical Race Studies; Social Justice; Culture & Cognition
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 20 articles and book chapters. Recently his work has been featured in the following journals: Sociological Forum, Symbolic Interaction, Humanity & Society, Landscape and Urban Planning, and Local Environment.
He is currently the editor of Humanity & Society.
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. 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.
Another book, Anthropocene Demos: Neoliberal Disorder and the Long-Term Lessons of Hurricane Katrina explores the concept of ecological citizenship as a way to rectify democratic exclusion in the Anthropocene. Anthropocene Demos focus is on the experiences of residents of the Lower Ninth Ward with participatory democracy amidst the neoliberal setting of the long-term aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This book is based off of thirty-seven formal interviews with residents and 14 months of working with a consortium of nonprofits, community groups, local government, and academics in New Orleans.
With Ellis Jones and Nate Chapman, I am editing a volume titled Beer Places: The Micro-Geographies of Craft Beer (under contract with University of Arkansas Press). Over the last several years we have experienced a craft beer revolution. The number of breweries have almost quadrupled in the last seven years and craft beer sales are now almost a quarter of the US beer market. But the revolution has not been fought at the same pace or with the same results in every part of the U.S. Many regional breweries, for instance, are seeing production declines. Mississippi has less than half a brewery (.4) per 100,000 adults while Vermont has 10.8 breweries per 100,000 adults. Furthermore, the role of breweries in communities has greatly changed over the last decade. Breweries are now used to anchor Main Street and places from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine are veritable brewscapes. Last year, Marlboro, Massachusetts put out full page ads in several beer magazines and newspapers for a brewer. Beer has gone from being situated around the dichotomy of domestic/import to being hyper-local. Beer Places examines how these changes vary depending on social, economic, political, cultural, and geographic location.
David G. Embrick and I are editing a volume titled The Handbook of Humanist Sociology. 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.
Finally, with Ellis Jones, I am writing a book, Beer Ecology, about the New England craft beer scene. While the concept of terroir or gouˆt de terroir has been primarily used to link viticulture with specific places—often referring to ecological and cultural conditions that create a shared affect—the term is increasingly used to discuss craft beer. Similar to the production ecologies (soil, topography, microclimate) of wine, champagne, and cheese, craft brewers are beginning to stress the interplay of place, cultural traditions, ecology, and science to recreate beer. While the turn to terroir in brewing is rooted in various movements: slow food, back-to-the-land, and locavore, to name a few, much of it involves a renegotiation of the concept itself. This is primarily due to the fact that the chief ingredient of beer—grain—is not grown in large enough quantities—to make a place-specific product. To get around the difficulties that terroir presents for craft beer, breweries have adapted by developing three interactional strategies. First, they stress what we call networked ecologies—a group of independent systems that build up a particular infrastructure—here the craft beer industry—by highlighting their relationships with local farms and other food producers. In doing so they talk about their interactions with the local environment and how it allows them to produce a unique product. Second, they interact through collaborative brewing projects with other brewers. Finally, they stress an interactional past. Here they situate the production of beer in New England in Thoreau’s landscape, invoking a bucolic and pastoral mythos in which they are constitutive actors. In this book, we examine these interactions and how they aid brewers in accomplishing the production of terroir in the New England craft beer scene.
I’m also starting up three projects. If you are a student and would like to work on anything related to any of these projects/areas, please contact me.
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 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, 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.
The Black Seed
In this project, I am studying the relationship between agrarianism and race. In particular, I focus on the role of agriculture traditionally as both a site of oppression and freedom for black families/communities and the role of black agrarians in food justice movements today. While the number of young farmers and small farms is increasing, the number of black owned farms is still negligible and has dramatically declined over the last century. Part of this decline is from structural changes in the food industry that over the last few decades has favored “big ag”, but much of it is rooted in racism. I’m also interested in the role of the farm, and agriculture in general, the Black spatial imagination, Black food geographies, and social values. For this project I am interviewing black farmers throughout the US, with a primary emphasis on the Northeast.