This is the professional website of Brian A. Hoey–cultural anthropologist, ethnographer, and author.
I am the Associate Dean of the Honors College and a Professor of Anthropology at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. My administrative work focuses on encouraging and supporting both faculty and students to help make the College an incubator of innovative pedagogy, inspirational leadership, and meaningful service to the communities of which we are apart. As faculty, my ethnographic research encompasses a number of themes including personhood and place, migration, narrative identity and life-transition, community building, and negotiations between work, family, and self in different social, historical, and environmental contexts. My research has focused increasingly on health outcomes (both physical and psychological) shaped by a different abiotic, biotic, and cultural factors at the individual and collective levels.
My project in Northwest Lower Michigan has explored non-economic or “lifestyle” migration where downsized and downshifting corporate workers relocate as a means of starting over. As a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia, I studied the contested nature of constructing personally and culturally meaningful space within the process of creating imagined and intentional community in far-flung agrarian settlements within a government migration program. My most recent projects have considered how therapeutic ideals are attached to particular physical settings–including purposive communities that range from 19th century moral treatment asylums to today’s new urbanist developments. I am also continuing work concerning migration, community development, and economic restructuring here in the Appalachian region of the United States. Despite a recent history of often bleak economic conditions and an continued mixed prospects, the communities surrounding Marshall University are, in many ways, perfect places to conduct research on new forms of work, entrepreneurship, community building, and the marketing of place according to emerging cultural and economic models that may stand in sharp contrast to the dominant order of the Industrial Era. In an area where plant closings and grim economic forecasts became commonplace over the past several decades, innovation which challenges conventional wisdom should not surprise us. Innovation is often born of necessity.
This page is a gateway to more detailed information about my teaching and research. You may follow links from the top this page to begin your exploration or find material topically by using the Site Search. I hope you will find the information here helpful and interesting.