Professor Modan is interested in how people talk and write about city spaces. Her research examines how people use language to create identities for the cities and neighborhoods where they live—and for themselves as legitimate urbanites—and the implications this has for the creation, maintenance or destruction of cities as places of democratic interaction. She has been particularly interested in the role that such language plays in processes of gentrification and multi-ethic community formation, primarily in Washington DC and Amsterdam. Modan is also working on narrative orientation and language and medical encounters.
Turf Wars: Discourse, Diversity, and the Politics of Place (Malden: Blackwell, 2007).
"Writing the Relationship: Ethnographer-Informant Interactions in the New Media Era." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 26.1 (2016): 98-107
(with Jennifer Leeman).
"Commodified Language in Chinatown: A Contextualized Approach to Linguistic Landscape." Journal of Sociolinguistics 13.3 (2009): 332-362.
"Mango Fufu Kimchi Yucca: The Depoliticization of ‘Diversity’ in US Urban Discourse." City and Society 20.2 (2008):188-221 (with Seuli Bose Brill).
"Engaging Death: Constructed Dialogue and Hypothetical Narratives in Advance Care Planning." Communication and Medicine 11.12 (2015):153-165.