Erin O’Connor is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Politics and Human Rights. Her research specializes in work and labor, art and craft, knowledge and culture, the body and environment; it is guided by material feminism, critical indigenous theory, phenomenology, eco-criticism, and posthumanism. Her book manuscript, Firework: art, craft, and self among glassblowers, draws from four years of ethnographic research in a glassblowing studio to analyze the meaning, socio-political structures, and epistemology of contemporary craft. Herein, she considers the rationalization of society, the citizen-craftsman and colonialism, patriarchy and power, language and love, pedagogy and learning, as well as the ontology of body, breath, hot glass, and others. Her current interest in the relations of ‘body’, ‘nature’, and ‘world’ in the context of settler colonialism – and the onto-ethics therein – emerge from her first research project.
Dr. O’Connor has published in the journals Thesis Eleven, Qualitative Sociology Review, Qualitative Sociology, Qualitative Research, and Ethnography, as well as in edited volumes such as Practicing Culture and Embodying Sociology: Retrospect, Progress and Prospects, Studio Studies: Operations, topologies, and displacements and Craftwork as Problem Solving: Ethnographic Studies of Design and Making. In class, she uses her areas of expertise as lenses through which to investigate social inequality and human rights as regards race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class, species, and land among other issues. She also serves as Faculty Co-Advisor for the Bedford Hills Club, which supports the MMC college program at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.
Dr. O’Connor enjoys the outdoors and creating. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Chair, Department of Politics and Human Rights
Ph.D., New School for Social Research
M.A., New School for Social Research
Honors, B.A., Michigan State University
forthcoming. “Quintessential Craft: cupmaking in anachronism”
forthcoming. “Breathwork: time, space, and the vessel”
forthcoming. “Hotshop: placing the genesis of American studio glassblowing”
forthcoming. “Firework: the problematics of fire and molten glass across ancient, industrial, and contemporary studio glassblowing”
2017. “Touching Tacit Knowledge: handwork as ethnographic method in a glassblowing studio”. Qualitative Research 17(2), 217-230.
2016. “The Prototype: Problem Work in the relationship between Designer, Artist, and Gaffer in Glassblowing” in Craftwork as Problem Solving: Ethnographic Studies of Design and Making. Ed. Trevor Marchand. London: Ashgate.
2016. “Inter- to Intracorporeality: The haptic hotshop heat of a glassblowing studio” in Studio Studies: Operations, Topologies & Displacements. Eds. Igancio Farias and Alex Wiley. London: Routledge.
2012 “Cross Disciplinary Literacy in the Age of Apps and Mobile Devices,” with Rebecca Mushtare and Millie Burns, in Emerging Pedagogies for the New Millennium. Network: A Journal of Faculty Development (www.nyu.edu/frn/publications/emerging.pedagogies/index.html).
2012 “Saber hecho carne: la experiencia dl sentido y la busqueda de expertise en el soplado de vidrio”” in Hacia una nueva sociología cultural: Mapas, dramas y prácticas. C. E. Benzecry (ed). Buenos Aires: Quilmes University Press.
2009 “The Act of Collaborative Creation and the Art of Integrative Creativity: Originality, Disciplinarity and Interdisciplinarity in Science.” Co-Authored with Diana Rhoten. Thesis Eleven (96(1)).
2007 “The Centripetal Force of Expression: Drawing Embodied Histories into Glassblowing.” Qualitative Sociology Review, “Ethnographies of Artistic Work,” Edited by Howard Becker and Marie Buscatto.
2007 “Hot Glass: The Calorific Imagination of Practice in Glassblowing.” In Craig Calhoun and Richard Sennett (eds.), Practicing Culture. London: Routledge.
2007 “Embodied Knowledge in Glassblowing: meaning and the struggle towards proficiency (modified reprint).” In Chris Shilling (ed.), Embodying Sociology: Retrospect, Progress and Prospects, The Sociological Review Monograph.
2006 “Glassblowing Tools: Extending the Body towards Practical Knowledge and Informing a Social World.” Qualitative Sociology, 29(2).
2005 “Embodied Knowledge: Meaning and the Struggle Towards Proficiency in Glassblowing.” Ethnography 6(2).
Work, Craft, Art, Ethnography, Culture, Knowledge, Social Theory, Craft, Body, Environment, Phenomenology, Methods
Introduction to Sociology
Art, Politics & Society (Art Activism)
Culture & Ideology
Great Social Thinkers
Radical Labor and Artisan Movements
EcoCulture & Sustainability (Queer Ecologies)
Foundations of Social and Political Inquiry
As Chair of the Department of Politics and Human Rights in the context of Covid, Professor O’Connor is actively working with her colleagues in PHR, International Studies (IS), and across the college to develop online programming. Some events are open to the public. Please inquire.
Fall 2020: PHR/IS Event Series, Racial Justice
Spring 2021: The Sojourner Truth Suffrage Academy
& by appointment