Dr. Fox conducts interdisciplinary research at the intersection of anthropology and urban studies. Her work addresses questions around post-socialism, late industrialism, sustainability, and the built environment. How have successive iterations of culture shaped our urban landscapes? And how can we revitalize disinvested cities without exacerbating the entangled threats of climate change and sociopolitical crisis?
Her primary research focuses on Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany, a city founded in 1950 as Stalinstadt, a steel manufacturing hub and East German socialist utopia. Today, Eisenhüttenstadt presents a new paradigm for urban thriving: civic leaders have successfully managed to stem decades of population loss and economic shrinkage by drawing on their city's socialist legacy and its attendant collectivist ethics. In the process, the city also drastically reduced its carbon emissions, and in 2022, leaders announced a plan to build the world's first carbon-neutral steel plant by 2050. As such, the city presents a novel mode of urban governance that manages to transform the principles of socialist urbanism--environmental protection, civic engagement--as locally authentic responses to contemporary sociopolitical challenges.