Rebecca Jo Kinney

Associate Professor
School of Cultural and Critical Studies
108 East Hall | 419-372-4378 | | Academia Page

Rebecca Jo Kinney is an interdisciplinary teacher and scholar of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA. Dr. Kinney’s award-winning first 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 enables the erasure of white supremacist systems. Her research has appeared in American Quarterly, Food, Culture & Society, Verge: Studies in Global Asia, Radical History Review, Race&Class, among other journals. Her second book Mapping AsiaTown Cleveland: Race and Redevelopment in the Rust Belt is anticipated from Temple University Press in 2025. Her third book, Making Home in Korea: The Transnational Lives of Adult Korean Adoptees, is based on research undertaken while she was a Fulbright Scholar in South Korea. Dr. Kinney served as the Director and Graduate Coordinator of American Culture Studies, August 2023-May 2024.

Professional Affiliations:
  • Fulbright Scholar, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea 2021-2022
  • Associate Professor, School of Cultural and Critical Studies 2018-present affiliated, American Culture Studies Program, 2018-
  • Assistant Professor, School of Cultural and Critical Studies 2012-2018
  • Ethnic Studies
  • American Studies
  • Urban Studies
  • Asian American Studies
  • Popular Culture
  • Interdisciplinary Qualitative Research Methods
  • Ph.D. University of California, San Diego, Ethnic Studies, 2011
  • M.A. University of California, San Diego, Ethnic Studies, 2006
  • B.A. University of Michigan, American Culture and Sociology, 2001


  • Capstone Seminar, (Cultural and Critical Studies 4860, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021)
  •  Qualitative Research Methods, (Cultural and Critical Studies 4850, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020)
  • Narratives of Race and Place in Contemporary American Film (Popular Culture 4600/Ethnic Studies 4800, Fall 2014)
  • Race, Place, and Popular Culture, (Popular Culture 4600/Ethnic Studies 4800, Spring 2013)
  • Introduction to Asian American Studies, (Ethnic Studies 1300, Spring 2013, Fall 2020)


  • Building the American City: How Race Shapes Place, (American Culture Studies/Ethnic Studies 6730, graduate seminar, Fall 2018)
  • “Doing American Studies”: A Course in Qualitative Methods, (American Culture Studies 7100, graduate seminar, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019)
  • Cultural Tourism, (Popular Culture 6800, graduate seminar, Fall 2013, Fall 2016)

Dr. Kinney is currently working on two book length projects.

AsiaTown Cleveland: Race and Redevelopment in the Twenty First Century (under contract with Temple University Press) delves into the relationships and stakes of ethnic community led development in the overarching context of white supremacist policies of anti-Asian exclusion that created spaces like Chinatowns as zones of difference. This project argues that the 21st century rendering of Asian ethnic enclaves is a spatialization of the “model minority myth” and engages the complex dynamics of comparative racial spatialization in a city long cleaved by anti-black racism. Through interviews with over twenty community members and an analysis of placemaking efforts by both community and city branding this book analyzes how the shifting dynamics of 21st century urban development operates to reinforce and resist narratives of racial space. Significantly this study illuminates how concepts of “diversity” are recruited into the redevelopment narratives of twenty-first century cities and function as a mode of racial discipline.   

Adult Korean Adoptees Making Home and Building Community in South Korea is a Fulbright supported ethnographic study of the returned population of adult transnationally adopted Koreans. This community-centered ethnography echoes multi-generational studies of transnational diasporic homemaking and raises the question once more: what is home for transnational subjects? Yet, it also is attentive to the unique situatedness of a community that is literally of and between these two nations because of forced migration as children and voluntary return migration as adults. 

  • Beautiful Wasteland: The Rise of Detroit as America’s Postindustrial Frontier, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016.
  • Kinney, Rebecca Jo. “The Cleveland Asian Festival as Scenario: Performing and Unsettling Racial Scripts,” American Studies, “Unsettling Global Midwests, Vol. 2,” Spring 2024. (in press)
  • Kinney, Rebecca Jo. “Flavors of East LA in the Heart of Seoul: Transnational Korean Adoptee Food Ways,” Verge: Studies in Global Asia Volume 9, Issue 2, Fall (2023): 130-156.
  • Kinney, Rebecca J. “ ‘America’s Great Comeback Story’: The White Possessive in Detroit Tourism,” American Quarterly, Vol. 70, Issue 4 (2018): 777-806.
  • Kinney, Rebecca J. “Detroit is Closer Than You Think,” Radical History Review, Issue number 129, (2017): 164-176.
  • Kinney, Rebecca J. “Riding Shotgun with an L.A. Son: Narratives of Race, Place, and Mobility in Roy Choi’s Culinary Autobiography” Food, Culture & Society, Vol. 20, Issue 1 (2017): 59-75.
  • 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, Vol. 57, Issue 1 (2015): 51-66.
  • 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 (2014): 40-55.
  • Kinney, Rebecca J. “Longing for Detroit: The Naturalization of Racism through Ruin Porn and Digital Memories,” Media Fields Journal, Issue 5 (2012): 1-14.
Invited Essays:
  • Kinney, Rebecca Jo. “ ‘Life of Paper’: From Record Keeping to Justice,” The 1st Adoption Truths Day International Conference Proceedings, Seoul, Korea: KoRoot (2020): 36-40.
  • 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, (2017): 1-12.

Updated: 05/09/2024 09:01AM