The Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy is now open.  Our office hours are from: 9:00am - 5:00pm, Monday - Friday. Please refer to the COVID-19 Resource Guide for all matters related to the return to campus.  All visitors and vendors must fill out the Columbia University Health Screening Form.  We look forward to seeing you on campus.


Catherine Fennell

Associate Professor of Anthropology



Catherine Fennell is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. Her work examines the transformation of the US welfare state and its effects on the politics of belonging, race and development in the urban Midwest. Through her ethnographic and archival research, she has focused on how urban built environments in tremendous social and material flux shape the ways in which urbanites come to understand social difference, and practice new forms of care and concern. In particular, she is interested in how the sensory and affective qualities of such environments cultivate novel attachments to a place, as well as commitments to the people and things gathered within it. She is finalizing revisions on a book manuscript that investigates Chicago's ongoing public housing reforms as a policy experiment that conjoined the palpability of past welfare failures with the potentials of "post welfare" social protection. A new project investigates the burgeoning building deconstruction movement in the urban Midwest, and pays close attention to the ethics of waste disposal and waste remediation. 


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