I am a co-author of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in An American City (UT Press, 2015). In it, I detail the story of Kumar, a Nepalese refugee and night-shift taxi driver, to illuminate the continued struggles of those who seek safe haven in the US.
Invisible in Austin examines the lives of those living on “the other side” of the booming city of Austin. It takes an in-depth look at the ways in which individual lives (of an undocumented worker, a homeless woman, a cab driver, a domestic worker, an activist, among others) intersect with larger social forces. Invisible in Austin is the product of a collective and collaborative qualitative project carried out by a team of 13 social researchers. For more information, see the book’s website.
Invisible in Austin has received broad acclaim, with coverage and reviews in The Guardian, Contemporary Sociology, Publishers Weekly, Bloomberg Business, Kirkus Reviews, Austin Monthly, KUT, The Daily Texan, and Austin American-Statesman, among others.
Reflecting on that experience, I co-authored “A Proposal for Public Sociology as Localized Intervention and Collective Enterprise: The Makings and Impact of Invisible in Austin” (Qualitative Sociology, 2017). In it, we ask what local public sociology can look look and what it accomplishes. We offer a rubric for evaluating the wide spectrum of possible impacts of a public sociological intervention: through direct and indirect audience engagements, on the project’s subjects, and on local public policy. It concludes with three suggestions: to approach public sociology as collective enterprise, to take narrative seriously, and to seek wide exposure.