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Michelle ChristianMichelle Christian

Associate Professor
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Ph.D. 2011, Duke University

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

Phone: (865) 974-2078

Interest Area

Critical race and racism; Global political economy; Labor

My research has focused on connecting critical race and racism concepts to understanding how racial inequality occurs in the global economy and locally. I have most prominently examined this through the growth of global tourism in Global South geographies and precarious forms of service-based employment. I employ structural field work methods to my research designs. I have conducted field research in Kenya, Uganda, Costa Rica, and the US, 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 and its connection to racial and gendered practices. Since 2014, I have collaborated with Ugandan partners to collect data on the working conditions of domestic workers in four regions in Uganda. For this project, we argue that the racial history and political economic context in the country has produced a racialized and gendered form of domestic work.  

In addition to my global research, I am also conducting an ongoing project on labor brokers in Knoxville, TN and its connection to precarious forms of work. With a colleague in Psychology, we are conducting a longitudinal study on racial microaggressions on UT's campus.

  • Christian, Michelle, Louise Seamster and Victor Ray. 2019. “Critical Race Theory and Empirical Sociology.” American Behavioral Scientist. 10.1177/0002764219859646
  • Christian, Michelle, Louise Seamster and Victor Ray. 2019. “New Directions in Critical RaceTheory and Sociology: Racism, White Supremacy, and Resistance.” American Behavioral Scientist
  • Christian, Michelle. 2019. “A Global Critical Race and Racism Framework: Racial Entanglements and Deep and Malleable Whiteness.” Sociology of Race and Ethnicity 5(2): 169-185.
  • Christian, Michelle and Assumpta Namaganda. 2018. “Transnational Intersectionality and Domestic Work: The Production of Ugandan Intersectional Racialized and Gendered Domestic Worker Regimes.” International Sociology 33(3): 315-336
  • 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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