Dr Matthew Durington



Contact Info

CLA, Room 3332


Ph.D., Anthropology,
Temple University, 2003
M.A., Anthropology,
Temple University, 1999
B.A., Humanities, Anthropology,
African and African American Culture, Film, and Sociology,
University of Texas, 1994

Areas of Expertise

Africa and African Diaspora
Moral Panics
Suburban and Drug Cultures
Urban Anthropology
Visual Anthropology
Ethnographic Methods


Matthew Durington received his B.A. in Humanities specializing in Film, Anthropology, Sociology and African and African American Studies at the University of Texas in 1994. He completed his M.A. in 1999 and his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Temple University in 2003 specializing in urban and visual anthropology. He completed a post-doctorate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in 2004 and arrived at Towson University in the fall of that year. Dr. Durington has served as the director of the International Studies program in the College of Liberal Arts at Towson University, coordinator for the Anthropology concentration, and is currently Director of Community Engagement and Partnerships for Towson University supervising BTU (Baltimore + Towson University).

He has several research interests that fall under the fields of urban, visual public, and cultural anthropology respectively. His doctoral thesis, “Discourses of Racialized Moral Panic in a Suburban Community: Teenagers, Heroin and Media in Plano, Texas”, was the result of ethnographic research on a phenomenon of suburban teenage heroin overdose deaths in this suburb from 1998-2000 and various institutional and media responses during this time. Follow up work has studied the lingering effects of media participation by suburban residents and the shifting nature of illicit drugs in the American suburb.

Dr. Durington was also the co-principal investigator for the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates grant project ‘Anthropology by the Wire’ along with colleague Sam Collins. This innovative project focused on socioeconomic issues in Baltimore City and brought community college students from the surrounding region to Towson University each summer for an intensive six-week program to create collaborative media with different groups in Baltimore City. The website for the project is the repository for all media and research related to the project. The outcome of these experiences has provided the impetus for the formulation of a ‘networked anthropology’ conceptualized by Sam Collins and Matthew Durington that is the basis for the book Networked Anthropology, published by Routledge in 2014. During the last several years, Dr. Durington and Dr. Collins have contracted with the National Park Service and have employed the networked anthropology approach to several ethnographic studies ranging from work on the Potomac Heritage Trail, First State National Historical Park, and the 100th anniversary of the Suffrage Movement.

Along with Dr. Collins and colleague Dr. Harjant Gill, he was inaugural co-editor of the Multimodal section of the flagship journal American Anthropologist from 2017-2020. Dr. Durington also has current research in urban Baltimore and the scholarship of Community Engagement. He holds a credential from Campus Compact for recognized skill sets in community engagement.  Dr. Durington’s research in Baltimore city focuses on gentrification and concomitant issues in the community of Sharp Leadenhall as well as larger issues around housing, race and human-computer interaction.

His ethnographic media work also yielded a project entitled Record Store, the result of 4 years of video work on youth subcultures and issues of collection/addiction in a Philadelphia record store. It is distributed by Berkeley Media and has screened in several venues both internationally and domestically in the United States. After being trained in the Anthropology of Visual Communication program at Temple University, Dr. Durington has continually theorized on the changing nature of ethnographic media. His current interests also involve gaming alongside colleagues in the AnthropologyCon collective.

Dr. Durington teaches courses on a variety of topics at Towson University including Visual Anthropology, Drugs in Global Perspective, The Anthropology of Media, Moral Panics, Life in the City, Anthropological Theory, The Anthropology of Africa, and the introductory course in Cultural Anthropology.

Selected Publications

  • 2020 “Visual Ethnography” (co-author Sam Collins) in Handbook of Visual Communication: Theory, Methods, and Media, 2nd ed. Ed. James Kelly, Ken Smith, Sheree Josephson. London: Routledge.
  • 2020 “From Ethnographic Media to Multimodality” (co-author Sam Collins) in Handbook of Ethnographic Film and Video. Ed. Phillip Vannini. London: Routledge.
  • 2020 Samuel Gerald Collins, Matthew Durington, Candace Everette, Jamya Anderson, Kirtsen Foseca, Jakayla Holmes and Ca’Syah Watkins. “Collaborative App-Making as a Research Method.”  Engage!
  • 2019 “Rethinking Gentrification in Baltimore” (co-author Sam Collins) in Baltimore Revisited: Stories of Inequality and Resistance in a U.S. City. Ed. Nicole King. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • 2017 “Push It Along: On Not Making an Ethnographic film in Baltimore” (co-authored with Sam Collins) Transforming Anthropology, (25)1:23-34
  • 2017 “Ethnographic Apps/Apps as Ethnography” (co-authored with Sam Collins, Paolo Favero, Krista Harper, Ali Kenner and Casey O’Donnell) Anthropology Now (9)1:102-118
  • 2017 “Multimodality: An Invitation” (co-authored with Sam Collins and Harjant Gill) American Anthropologist (119)1:142-153.
  • 2017 “Teaching Baltimore Together: Building Thematic Cooperation Between Classes” (co-authored with Sam Collins and Nicole Fabricant) Metropolitan Universities Journal (28)2:90-102
  • 2014 Networked Anthropology: A Primer for Ethnographers (co-author Sam Collins) London: Routledge.