Researcher

I have over a decade of experience conducting academic and applied research, both individually and in multi-disciplinary teams. Over the years, my research interests have shifted considerably, from cultural theory and humor studies, to festivals, urban development, intercultural and organizational communication, to communicating with diverse audiences and user experience design. Through it all, however, I have been consistently interested in the value of inter- and multi-disciplinary research practices, especially related to developing and applying new or innovative research methods.

Below are a few project summaries. These include academic and applied research. More information or copies of publications are available upon request.

Mediation of Digital/Physical Spaces

I am currently engaged in both scholarly and creative activities related to the digital arts, including design (especially design thinking and UX) as well as applied digital arts practices such as cultural mapping and hyper-local radio. My interest in spatial representation was cultivated during my doctoral fieldwork in Montreal studying the Just for Laughs comedy festival at a time of rapid urban development, particularly the creation of a quartier des spectacles. Living in Kitchener during a time of major redevelopment, many of the public discourses about the quartier des spectacles are also evident is debates about the reshaping of a rapidly growing city. As a postdoctoral fellow at WILU, developed digital cultural mapping datasets and asset inventories. As part of this research, I located ways in which these data-focused analyses were inadequate for the comprehension of complex cultural scenes, which can be difficult to track, categorize, and pin-down to a particular time and space.

Over the next three to five years, my research in the digital arts will engage with the ways physical and digital cultural spaces overlap and interact, constituting communities and scenes across real space and into digital platforms. Related to this, I am working to reimagine an emerging neighbourhood, Midtown, which traverses Kitchener and Waterloo and is a space of rapid redevelopment. Midtown Radio is a collaborative intervention into this development, offering residents the opportunity to lead in the redefinition of their neighbourhood(s) using an accessible digital platform to share music, stories, and other community programming. This is a unique and timely case study for the use of digital media platforms for community development.

Urban Development, Space, and Cultural Scenes

Over the past 10 years, I have been very interested in understanding how art and culture contribute to making our communities livable, vibrant, and desirable. Research projects have included understanding how festival spaces contribute to public life in Montreal, uncovering the origins of the unique cultural scenes of Queen Street West in Toronto, and mapping cultural spaces in the Waterloo Region in order to uncover tensions in urban development as it contributes to livability and vibrancy. This research has been presented at national and international conferences, published in academic journals, and used to inform economic development decisions at the City of Kitchener.

Humour and Laughter

Stemming from my early graduate work which studied sketch comedy in Canada, I have researched and published a number of articles related to humour. Comedy is a notoriously problematic genre in the globally oriented creative industries. Humour is linked closely to cultural signposts and cannot always be exported or easily understood by outsiders. In the broad fields of organizational and intercultural communication, humour is a linchpin. If you can understand a group’s jokes, you can understand their culture. This research interest cemented my belief in using diverse methods in research (a fluidity that is often frowned upon in many formal academic circles where scholars are defined by methods) and pushed me to engage more creatively with knowledge production and cultural understandings.