I am a Professor and Department Head in Geography, University of Tennessee. My interests are human and cultural geography with a specific focus on public memory, race, heritage tourism, social justice, critical place name studies, and the American South (southeastern United States). Much of my work focuses on the histories, memory-work, commemorative activism, and place-making efforts of African Americans as they assert and claim civil rights, their right to belong with public spaces, and the power to remember the past and shape the American landscape on their own terms.
My work has spanned many aspects of the southern landscape, including Civil Rights memorials (esp. streets named for Dr. King), slavery and plantation heritage tourism sites, NASCAR, Graceland and Memphis, Mayberry and film tourism, and even the cultural geography of kudzu. In August of 2012, I joined the faculty at Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville after serving at East Carolina University since 2000. I also held a tenure-track position at Georgia College (1998-2000), a visiting position at Georgia Southern University (1995-1996), and temporary faculty/graduate teaching positions at the University of Georgia (1990-1998).
I am a devoted scholar-teacher who enjoys working and publishing with students, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I am also committed to conducting critical public scholarship that engages, informs, and helps the news media, government officials, community activists and organizations, and the broader citizenry. I founded and co-coordinate the RESET (Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism) Initiative, and currently work with a team of five universities on a large NSF-funded project on race, slavery and plantation tourism. Beginning in July 2016, I will serve as Vice President of the American Association of Geographers (AAG). Previously, I served on the Council of the AAG as Regional Councillor (representing the Southeast) and Chair of the Association’s Publications Committee. I am also a former President of the Southeastern Division of the AAG and a former co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Southeastern Geographer.