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Samantha Fox

Assistant Professor

0031 - Williams Hall

Ph.D., Columbia University, 2018

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Research Areas

Additional Interests

  • Urban studies
  • Urban policy
  • Visual anthropology/documentary studies
  • Environmental anthropology
  • Post-socialism
  • Cultural memory
  • Germany

Research Statement

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. 


Dr. Fox received her BA from Dartmouth College, where she was a senior fellow. Her fellowship research led her to Berlin, where she received her MA in visual and media anthropology from the Freie Universität. She received her PhD in sociocultural anthropology from Columbia University. Prior to coming to Lehigh, Dr. Fox worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the New School for Social Research. She has also conducted policy research for New York City and State.

Her other interests, both scholarly and personal, include art/film/animation, permaculture, food science and history, being outdoors, and reading, mostly long-form journalism, literary fiction, and seed catalogs.



Forthcoming 2021, “I Feel Brandenburg: Temporality, Vacancy, and Migration in Germany’s Model Socialist City,” Anthropology Quarterly.

2020, “The Socialist Bratwurst: East German Urbanism and its Reemergence in the Present.” The Journal of Urban History.

2020, “Street Lighting and the Uneasy Coexistence of Socialist and Capitalist Urban Imaginaries.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Policy, Reviews, and Commentary

Forthcoming 2021, Review of Building Socialism: The Afterlife of East German Architecture in Urban Vietnam, Anthropology Quarterly.

2019, Fox, Schulz, and Turner, “Reimagine the Canals Community Engagement Report.” Albany: The Rockefeller Institute of Government.

2018, “Dark: Energy Politics in an Age of Latency,” Europe Now, Issue 14

2017, Review of Divided Subjects, Invisible Borderlands, Europe Now, Issue 4

Edited Volumes

2017, eds. Undine Frömming, Steffen Köhn, Samantha Fox, and Mike Terry, Digital Environments: Ethnographic Perspectives Across Global Online and Offline Spaces. Transkript Verlag, Edition Medienwissenschaft and Columbia University Press.

Book Chapters

2013, “Listen to the Radio: AM Radio, Second Life, and Innovations in an Emerging Medium.”

225-232 in Virtual Environments and Cultures, edited by Undine Frömming

Peter Lang Verlag, 2013

Photographic Publications

2011, Historicizing the Uses of the Past: Scandinavian Perspectives on History Culture,

Historical Consciousness and Didactics of History Related to World War II, edited by

Helle Bjerg, Claudia Lenz, and Erik Thorstensen. Transkript Verlag

Manuscripts in Preparation

The Afterlife of Utopia: Urban Renewal in Germany’s Model Socialist City, book manuscript


Dr. Fox teaches a range of undergraduate classes in anthropology, many of which are cross-listed with global studies and other disciplines. Examples include:

Anth 011: Cultural Diversity and Human Nature
Anth/GS 106: Cultural Studies and Globalization
Anth 113: Culture Theory
Anth 114: How to Study Culture
Anth/ES/EVST 121: Environment and Culture
Anth/GS 126: Urban Anthropology
Anth 366: Power, Preparedness, Precarity