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Michelle ChristianMichelle Christian

Assistant Professor
Ph.D. 2011, Duke University

The University of Tennessee
901 McClung Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996-0490

Phone: (865) 974-2078

Interest Area

Globalization, political economy, racial stratification,labor, global tourism

My research has focused on connecting structural race and racial ideology theory to understanding how racial inequality occurs in the global economy.  I have most prominently examined this through the case of global tourism growth to the global South. I employ comparative historical, content analysis, and structural field work methodologies to my research designs. I have conducted field research in Kenya, Uganda, and Costa Rica and oversaw research in South Africa, Indonesia, China, and India as part of a collaborative international and interdisciplinary research project supported by UK DFID called, Capturing the Gains.

For my research on Costa Rica I applied a racial neoliberalism framework to address how tourism networks, institutional policies, and community contestation activities were practices of racial neoliberalism that were supported by colorblind logics.  My research on Kenya, addressed how existing gender and racial stratification patterns embedded in economic and political institutions supported the growth of a gendered and racialized tourism global production network, in addition to new mechanisms found in firm behavior and institutional forms.

My most recent research focuses specifically on labor and working conditions. In August 2014, in collaboration with Ugandan partners, I collected data on the working conditions of domestic workers in four regions in Uganda.  We are trying to identify the political economic changes and current conditions in the country and globally that have influenced the precariousness of contemporary domestic work.  In the upcoming year I will also begin a project exploring the dynamics and racial contours to work in multiple industries in East Tennessee.

  • Christian, Michelle. 2015. "Tourism Global Production Networks and Uneven Social Upgrading". Tourism Geographies. DOI: 10.1080/14616688.2015.1116596
  • Christian, Michelle. 2015. "Racial Neoliberalism in Costa Rican Tourism: Blanqueamiento in the Twenty-First Century." Current Perspectives in Social Theory. 34: 157-189.
  • Christian, Michelle. 2015. "Kenya's Tourist Industry and Global Production Networks: Gender, Race, and Inequality." Global Networks. 16(1): 25-44.
  • Christian, Michelle. 2013. "'(. . .) Latin America without the Downside': Racial Exceptionalism and Global Tourism in Costa Rica." Ethnic and Racial Studies. 36(10):1599-1618.
  • Gereffi, Gary and Michelle Christian. 2009. "The Impacts of Wal-Mart: The Rise and Consequences of the World's Dominant   Retailer." Annual Review of Sociology 35:573-591.
  • Christian, Michelle and Dev Nathan. 2013. "Tourism Overview: Changing End Markets and Hyper Competition." Working Paper No. 26, March 2013, Capturing the Gains, Manchester England. 
  • Christian, Michelle and Francis Mwaura. 2013. "Economic and Social Upgrading in Tourism Global Production Networks: Findings from Uganda." Working Paper No. 19, February 2013, Capturing the Gains, Manchester, England. 
  • Christian, Michelle. 2012. "Economic and Social Up(down)grading in Tourism Global Production Networks: Findings from Kenya and Uganda." Working Paper No. 11, September 2012, Capturing the Gains, Manchester, England. 
  • Christian, Michelle. 2013. "Global Value Chains, Economic Upgrading, and Gender in the Tourism Industry." Pp. 43-70 in Global Value Chains, Economic Upgrading and Gender: Case Studies of the Horticulture, Tourism and Call Center Industries, edited by C. Staritz and J. Guilherme, Washington, D.C.: World Bank Press. 

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