Rebecca Kinney

Associate Professor, School of Cultural and Critical Studies and American Culture Studies; Graduate Faculty

Office: 108 East Hall
Office Phone: 419-372-4378

Rebecca J. Kinney is an interdisciplinary teacher and scholar of race, place, and popular culture. She teaches courses on race and popular culture and qualitative research methods. Dr. Kinney’s book, Beautiful Wasteland: The Rise of Detroit as America’s Postindustrial Frontier (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) argues that contemporary stories told about Detroit’s potential for rise enable the erasure of white privilege and systemic racism in the past and present. Through situating Detroit as “beautiful wasteland” she examines how the racialized mythology of the frontier in American culture is redeployed in the stories we tell about the raise, fall, and potential for rise again in Detroit. Dr. Kinney is currently at work on a book-length study, Rust Belt Chinatowns: Restaurants, Race, and Redevelopment in the Twenty First Century which analyzes the complexities of race and redevelopment by looking at “Asian American” space. By placing Asian American space at the center of a Rust Belt story her ethnographic research simultaneously challenges the coastal bias of Asian American Studies and the black-white bias of studies of the urban Great Lakes. 

Educational Background: 
Ph.D., Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego
M.A., Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego
B.A., American Culture and Sociology, University of Michigan

BGSU Courses Taught: 
ETHN 1300: Introduction to Asian American Studies
POPC 1600: Introduction to Popular Culture
POPC 4600xETHN4800: Narrative of Race and Place in Contemporary American Film
POPC 4600xETHN4800: Race, Place, and Popular Culture
CCS 4850: Qualitative Research Methods
CCS 4860: Capstone Seminar
ACS/ETHN 6730: Building the American City: How Race Shapes PlacePOPC 6800: Cultural Tourism
ACS 7100: Doing American Studies: A Course in Qualitative Methods
ACS 7800: Placing an Interdisciplinary Methodology


Most available here:


Beautiful Wasteland: The Rise of Detroit as America’s Postindustrial Frontier, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.

  • Awarded

2018 Institute for Humanities Research Transdisciplinary Book Award. This prize is awarded annually to a work that exemplifies transdisciplinary, socially engaged humanities-based scholarship.

2018 Midwest Popular Culture and American Culture Association’s Best Single Work by One or More Authors. This prize is awarded annually to recognize the most notable, newly published, English-language monograph in the field of popular and/or American culture study.

  • Reviewed in Antipode, Urban Geography, Historical Geography, Journal of American Studies, Michigan Historical Review, Environment and Urbanization, Indiana Magazine of History, Detroit Metro Times
  • Interviewed for Dialogue Up! (podcast), Michigan Radio “Stateside”, Bowling Green Independent News

Refereed Articles


Kinney, Rebecca J. “ ‘America’s Great Comeback Story’: The White Possessive in Detroit Tourism,” American Quarterly, December 2018.

2017    Kinney, Rebecca J. “Riding Shotgun with an L.A. Son: Narratives of Race, Place, and Mobility in Roy Choi’s Culinary Autobiography” Forthcoming from Food, Culture & Societyin press Issue 20.1 (March 2017)

2015    Kinney, Rebecca J. “The Auto-Mobility of Gran Torino’s American Immigrant Dream: Cars, Class, and Whiteness in Detroit’s Post-Industrial Cityscape,”Race & Class, July-September, Vol. 57, Issue 1: pp. 51-66.

2014    Kinney, Rebecca J. “’But I Don’t See Race’: Teaching Popular Culture and Racial Formation Theory in an Era of Colorblindness,” Transformations, Vol. XXIV No. 1 & 2, pp. 40-55.

Kinney, Rebecca J. “ ‘But I Don’t See Race’”: Teaching Popular Culture and Racial Formation.” Children’s Literature Review. Ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 203. Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015. Prod. Layman Poupard. 49-56. Print.

2012    Kinney, Rebecca J. “Longing for Detroit: The Naturalization of Racism through Ruin Porn and Digital Memories,” Media Fields Journal, Fall 2012, Issue 5: pp. 1-14.

Invited Essays

2017       Kinney, Rebecca J. “Detroit is Closer Than You Think,” invited essay for Radical History Review, Volume 2017, Issue number 129, Fall 2017, pp. 164-176.

2017       Kinney, Rebecca J. “Author Response: Beautiful Wasteland,” invited Author Response to Reviews of Beautiful Wasteland: The Rise of Detroit as America’s Postindustrial Frontier, Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, Book Review Symposium, May 2017, pp: 1-12.

Book Chapters

2004    Kinney, Rebecca J. “Seoul Searching” in Asian American X: A Collection of 21st Century Asian American Voices, Arar Han and John Hsu eds., 2004.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press: pp. 52-57.

Book Reviews

2008   Kinney, Rebecca J. “Review of Linda Trinh Võ’s Mobilizing an Asian American Community,” Amerasia Journal, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2008.

Updated: 02/14/2019 04:05PM