Ben Chappell

Smiling man with dark rimmed glasses and dark shirt and sweater
  • Professor
  • Interim Chair of American Studies
  • Director of Graduate Studies

Contact Info

213 Bailey Hall
1440 Jayhawk Blvd.
Lawrence, KS 66045


Ben Chappell is an ethnographer and cultural critic working in areas of Mexican American studies, vernacular cultural production and performance, neoliberalism, fascism, and critical university studies. He founded and convenes the Ethnography Caucus of the American Studies Association.




Music and Peace Studies, Bethel College, Kansas, 1993
Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin, 1998
Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin, 2003


Prof. Chappell's teaching efforts focus on the graduate program and core requirements in the AMS major.

Teaching interests:

  • Ethnography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Theory
  • U.S. in Global Context
  • American Identities

Selected Publications

Chappell, Ben. 2022. "University Studies: Up Close and Critical" (review article). American Studies 61 (2): 55-69.

Chappell, Ben. 2021. Mexican American Fastpitch: Identity at Play in Vernacular Sport. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Chappell, Ben. 2020. “Traditions of the Oppressed: Popular Aesthetics and Layered Barrio Space Against the Erasure of Gentrification in Austin.” In The Everyday Life of Urban Inequality: Ethnographic Case Studies of Global Cities, Angela D. Storey, Megan Sheehan, and Jessica Bodoh-Creed, eds. Pp. 87-104. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Santillán, Richard, Gene T. Chávez, Rod Martínez, Raymond Olais, and Ben Chappell. 2018. Mexican American Baseball in Kansas City. Books. Charleston, SC: Arcadia.
Chappell, Ben. 2016. “The Borders the Cross Us: Ethnographic Sensibilities for Transnational American Studies.” Book Chapters. In Approaching Transnational America in Performance, edited by Birgit Bauridl and Pia Wiegmink. Peter Lang.
Chappell, Ben. 2016. “Lowrider Publics: Aesthetics and Contested Communities.” Book Chapters. In The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Popular Culture, edited by Frederick Aldama, 267–78. London/New York: Routledge.
Chappell, Ben. 2015. “The Nature and Meaning of Research in American Studies.” Other. American Studies Association White Papers. American Studies Association.
Chappell, Ben. 2014. “Barrio Metaxis: The Ambivalent Aesthetics of Lowrider Cars.” Book Chapters. In Vehicles: Cars, Canoes, and Other Metaphors of Moral Imagination, edited by David Lipset and Richard Handler. Oxford/New York: Berghahn.
Chappell, Ben. 2013. “Lowriders.” Reviews. Edited by Ilan Stavans. Latino Studies. New York: Oxford University Press.
Chappell, Ben. 2012. Lowrider Space: Aesthetics and Politics of Mexican American Custom Cars. Books. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Chappell, Ben. 2009. “Ordinary Exceptions: The Violence of Threat Governmentality.” Book Chapters. In Shifting Positionalities: The Local and International Geo-Politics of Surveillance and Policing, edited by María  Amelia Viteri and Aaron Tobler, 124–36. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Chappell, Ben. 2008. “Lowrider Style: Cultural Poetics and the Politics of Scale.” Book Chapters. In Cultural Studies: An Anthology, edited by Michael Ryan, 634–45. Malden, MA: Blackwell.


Selected Presentations

University of Regensburg, Germany, Center for International and Transnational Area Studies, 2022. Leibniz ScienceCampus visiting fellow lecture, “Learning Management and Knowledge Ideologies in a ‘Moment of Danger’ for Universities.”

Texas State University, Center for the Study of the Southwest, 2021. “Mexican American Fastpitch: Identity at Play in Mid-America.”

First annual International Lowrider Studies Conference, University of Utah, 2021. “Lowrider Aesthetics.”

San Diego State University, 2020. “Mexican American Fastpitch: Identity at Play in Mid-America.”

Western History Association, Albuquerque, NM, 2020. “Fastpitch in the Railway World: Answering the
Mexican Question on the Playing Field.”

University of Regensburg, Germany, Center for International and Transnational Area Studies, 2020. Entry in the video talk series Transnational Perspectives on the Pandemic.

Chappell, B. (11/17/2019). Google’s Lowrider, the Jokers, and the Conquest of the Eastside. American Anthropological Association/Canadian Anthropology Society. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Chappell, B. (11/7/2019). Strategies for Survival and Success in the Academic Job Market. American Studies Association. Honolulu, HI
Chappell, B. (5/30/2019). Mexican American Fastpitch: Vernacular Sport, Utopian Performance, and Cultural Citizenship in Mid-América. Cultural Studies Association. New Orleans, LA
Chappell, B. (6/28/2018). Everything can be Counted, Nothing can be Known: Neoliberalism and Knowledge Production. 10th anniversary conference, Regensburg European American Forum. University of Regensburg, Germany
Chappell, B. (2/14/2018). Layered Memory and Contested Value: Popular Aesthetics in a Mexican American Barrio. Capitalism and the City series. Free University of Berlin
Chappell, Ben. 2022. "University Studies: Up Close and Critical" (review article). American Studies 61 (2): 55-69.