Dr Matthew Durington



Contact Information

CLA, Room 3347


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. As of fall 2013, Dr. Durington is the director of the International Studies program in the College of Liberal Arts at Towson University and the coordinator for the Anthropology concentration in the department.

He has several research interests that fall under the fields of urban, visual 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. He considers this study a "media ethnography" and is currently working on a manuscript based on this fieldwork forthcoming on Duke University Press.

Dr. Durington is 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 focuses on socioeconomic issues in Baltimore City and brings community college residents 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 a methods book to be published by Routledge.

Dr. Durington also has current research in both urban Baltimore and South Africa. In South Africa he explores suburban development and racial identity in the post-Apartheid era. He is focusing on "gated community" development in the suburbs north of Durban having conducted participant-observation in one estate during his post-doctorate. Dr. Durington’s research in Baltimore city focuses on gentrification and concomitant issues in the community of Sharp Leadenhall. Anthropology courses in the department have provided a service learning and civic engagement opportunity for Towson University students to work with Dr. Durington in this neighborhood and other areas of Baltimore City since 2006.

He also continues to consult with Keyan Tomaselli and students from the CCMS program at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on an ongoing research project exploring issues of San identity and Indigenous rights in the Kalahari. He spent parts of the summers of 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008 conducting participatory video work with San collaborators in Botswana exploring land and water rights issues. He is currently translating and editing footage from this fieldwork for a multi-media project entitled The Hunters Redux.

His ethnographic film work has resulted in a project entitled Record Store that is a 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 film and anthropologically intended media. His current interests are in the gamification of curriculum in higher education.

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 and introductory courses in Cultural Anthropology. He is a faculty member of the African and African American Studies Committee, Cultural Studies Committee, International Studies Committee and Metropolitan Studies Committee in the College of Liberal Arts. He is also a faculty fellows representative for Men’s Basketball and Golf at Towson. You will often find Dr. Durington at many sporting events on campus as an active supporter of student-athletes.

Selected Publications

  • 2012 “Engaging Sharp-Leadenhall: An Interdisciplinary Faculty Collaboration in Service-Learning,” Journal of Public Scholarship in Higher Education, Aug/Sept (co-authors Audrey Falk and Elsa Lankford)
  • 2011 “Ethnographic Film and Anthropology: A Critical History,” in Visual Anthropology, Jay Ruby and Marcus Banks (eds.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • 2009 “Civic Engagement and Gentrification Issues in Metropolitan Baltimore,” Metropolitan Universities Journal (20)1 (co-authored with Camee Maddox, Adrienne Ruhf, Shana Gass and Justin Schwermer)
  • 2009 “Suburban Fear, Media and Gated Communities in Durban, South Africa,” Home Cultures 6(1):71-88.
  • 2008 “The Hunters Redux: Participatory and Applied Visual Anthropology with the Botswana San,” in Visual Interventions, Sarah Pink (ed.), pp. 191-207. London: Berghan Books
  • 2008 “The Ethnographic Semiotics of a Suburban Moral Panic: Teenagers, Heroin and Media in Plano, Texas” in Journeys, Experiments, Innovations: New Directions in Media Anthropology, Matthew Durington and Lesley J F Green (eds.), Critical Arts 21(2):261-275.