Serin D. Houston is a human geographer who engages with the nexus of human and environmental relations in international and domestic contexts. In particular, her research examines questions of identity (individual or collective, ascribed to places or people), power relations, migration, belonging and displacement, and social and community change. She draws upon assorted critical social theories, ranging from performativity to hegemony, to explore these issues.
Houston’s current work analyzes how institutional narratives of creativity, sustainability, and social justice fold into place-defining and place-promoting policies and programs in Seattle, Washington. Locating her study within a city that enjoys esteem in the geographic imagination as a forerunner of progressive social change sheds light on the particularities of Seattle. Simultaneously, this ethnography of the city also elucidates the many challenges bound up more generally with efforts to revitalize neighborhoods, achieve environmental, social, and economic sustainability, and create inclusive and socially just urban spaces.
Houston’s previous research projects examined the following: settlement patterns for East African immigrants in Vancouver BC; conceptions of race and place for mixed-race households in the Pacific Northwest; Tibetan diasporic identities; changing gender norms in Malagasy and Nepalese indigenous communities; and women’s entrepreneurship in Prague, Czech Republic. A variety of local and national grants, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, have supported Houston’s research endeavors. Her work has appeared in the Encyclopedia of Geography and a range of peer-reviewed publications, including Gender, Place, and Culture, Qualitative Inquiry, the Geographic Bulletin, and Immigration and Integration in Urban Communities: Renegotiating the City.
At Mount Holyoke, Houston currently teaches World Regional Geography, Global Movements: Migrations, Refugees, and Diasporas; Cities of the 21st Century; and Sense of Place, Sense of Planet. In the future, she will also teach Gender and Space; Geographies of Racial Mixing and Multiraciality; Social Justice in the City; and Conceptualizing Geographic Research.