Trained as a sociologist and an archaeologist, my research addresses a number of related issues including nationalism, state formation, the causes and consequences of cultural violence, and the interplay between political power, material culture, and the organization of illicit markets. In order to investigate the capacity of cultural objects to shape social action, across my research projects I have prioritized comparative analysis of archival documents, images and objects, quantitative data sets, and original ethnographic materials.
Theoretically, I am developing a model of artifacts as relational objects, a concept I extend from the art historical literature and join with sociological concepts. In several major research endeavors including my book manuscript and postdoctoral project, I show how artifacts, monuments, and ruins constitute social reality on the basis of interrelations among civic ritual, collective memory, and viewers’ lived experience. I apply this approach to the question of color perception in a sole-author article published in Sociological Theory in 2016 and to the study of Italian nationalism and transnational cultural policy in my book manuscript, Ruling Culture: Art police, tomb robbers, and the rise of cultural power in Italy.