BA 2004 (Political Science) Vassar College
Research interests: material culture, political economy, technology and subjectivity, commons, Marxism, feminism, anarchism, urban politics, racial formation, critical theory, consumption
Regional focus: cities of North America; suburbanization
My research concerns the cultural politics of the bicycle as it intersects with capitalist development. in contemporary North American urban life. Specifically, I am grappling with the mutually supportive relationships between: the massive growth in cycling as a 'green' urban lifestyle in certain cities amid rising rents and the suburbanization of poverty; the circulations of knowledge on facilitating real estate- and consumption-led economic growth through the production of space; and the classed and raced displacements attending gentrification as the prime mode of securing urban futures in contemporary capitalism. My contention is that the potential of the bicycle as a practice of making the commons in modern urban life is present in various projects, from skill-sharing and urban farming in Detroit to Critical Mass in San Francisco and industrial relocalization in Portland, but that dynamics of accumulation and displacement must be understood and contested to continue to realize the bicycle's radically democratic promise.
I have also undertaken research on the planned large-scale 'eco-topian' development of Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, in particular the ways in which the fetishization of total spatial design occludes key historical processes and renders the social and ecological contradictions of the present bearable through the production of 'fantasy spaces' of the future.
Possible future trajectories of research include: a historical geography of punk culture as spatial practice and knowledge circulation; the political economy of the university system; the decommodification of land and the potential of suburbs as new commons.
Stehlin, John (in press). “Regulating Inclusion: Spatial Form, Social Process and the Normalization of Cycling Practice in the United States.” Mobilities (forthcoming)
Stehlin, John (2010). "On Shifting Ground: Mobilizing Soil, Territorializing Power and Producing Place on San Francisco’s Treasure Island." International Association of Traditional Environments Working Paper Series. 230.