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Skidmore College
American Studies Department

Amber N. WileyAmber Wiley photo

Amber is a proud native of Oklahoma City, although she has lived in seven states, one district (taxation without representation), and various destinations abroad. Amber received her Ph.D. in American Studies from George Washington University, where she specialized in architectural history, urban history, and African American cultural studies. She also holds a Master's in Architectural History and Certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Virginia School of Architecture, and a B.A. in Architecture from Yale University. Amber sits on the board of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and is a member of the National Park System Advisory Board Landmarks Committee.

Her research interests are centered on the social aspects of design and how it affects urban communities - architecture as a literal and figural structure of power. She focuses on the ways local and national bodies have made the claim for the dominating narrative and collective memory of cities, and examines how preservation and public history contribute to the creation and maintenance of the identity and “sense of place” of a city. She has contributed chapters to three edited volumes: “A Model School for a Model City: Shaw Junior High School as a Monument to Planning Reform,” in Designing Schools: Space, Place and Pedagogy (Routledge, 2016); “A Modern-Day WPA,” in Bending the Future Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016); and “Geography, Planning, and Performing Mobility in New Orleans,” in Walking in Cities: Quotidian Mobility as Urban Theory, Method, and Practice (Temple University Press, 2015). She was awarded the 2014 Bishir Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum for her article “The Dunbar High School Dilemma: Architecture, Power, and African-American Cultural Heritage.” Her research and public history work has been featured in CityLab, Architect, Offbeat, American Scholar, and the Journal of Digital Humanities. Amber is also a photographer, and her work reflects her research and teaching interests. She has exhibited at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, The Project Box, L'Entrepôt Gallery, the District of Columbia Arts Center, and Artomatic.

Her teaching approach mirrors her dedication to critical thinking about the human condition in the built environment, and the creation, evolution, and maintenance of cities, neighborhoods, and communities. She strives to actively engage in discourses that are significant across academic fields. Before undertaking doctoral work in American Studies her theoretical and analytic background was founded in art and architectural history methodology. She combines analysis of aesthetics and socio-cultural influences on community building with questions about the meaning of culture, authority, and agency.