Collegiate Affiliation

Teresa Gowan teaches ethnography, discourse analysis, consumption, and urban sociology at the University of Minnesota, with a longtime focus on the medicalization and criminalization of poverty. Her ethnography Hobos, Hustlers, and Backsliders: Homeless in San Francisco (2010), winner of the ASA’s Robert Park and Mary Douglas awards, explored unhoused life-worlds in the context of seismic shifts in US poverty management around the turn of the 21st century. Her more recent work with Sarah Whetstone traces the contrasting constitution of addicted and recovering selves across carceral, medical-restorative, evangelical, and harm reduction interventions. Other areas of research interest range from alternative economies to contemporary culture wars. One long-term project has been to develop new tools of "ethnographic" analysis incorporating discourse beyond the text (from bodily gesture or emotional expression to the character of space and place).

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Sociology, University of California, 2003
  • B.A.: American Studies, Manchester, 1991


  • Ethnography
  • Comparative Study of Addiction Discourse and Treatment Modalities
  • Urban Studies
  • Poverty and Marginality
  • Consumption and Branded Labor
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Cultural Basis of Alternative Economies