Research

Citizenship encompasses more than just a simple relationship of a person to her state — an agreement of rights and responsibilities that are codified through legal writ — and is often held as the vehicle through which inequalities are articulated and new claims for belonging and inclusion emerge. Indeed, since at least the 1990’s, the conception of citizenship has been deeply broadened beyond a legal status to include all manner of social and political claims that are both tied to redistributive justice and cosmopolitical justice.

In my research, I have focused on health citizenship, or the economic, political and social negotiations related to the rights and responsibilities of individuals to and within the nation-state and of the nation-state to the individual with regard to healthful living. This is not limited merely to access to health care, but includes all that is incumbent in letting live well. In this, I have sought to further re-scale citizenship beyond the nation-state, moving into the micro scale of the community in my Master’s thesis as well as in local research projects that I have been involved with in the Seattle, WA area.

In my Doctoral dissertation, I shifted my research to the macro scale of transnationalized citizenship through an examination of the impact of 100 years of U.S. interventions in health and development in Haiti. In each of these projects, I have sought to uncover a genealogy of health citizenship that is at once nuanced in its geography and more broadly applicable in its theory.

Interests

  • global health and development
  • geopolitics
  • citizenship
  • gender
  • critical race

Research Projects

  • Monstrous Microbes

    An examination of the co-emergence of new geographies, race and racism, and outbreak narratives

    I am currently beginning work on a book project tentatively titled Monstrous Microbes: Geography, Race and Disease Narratives, in which I examine the co-emergence of new geographies, race and racism, and disease and outbreak narratives during the early years of global exploration, and the hauntings of these onto-epistemologies that mark the Euro-centric edges of ‘humanity.’ The ‘monstrosity’ of some lives, I contend, does not stop at the exterior determination of the Other – the legible expression of the human form – but is further articulated down to the very microbes believed to originate (or at least hold originary myth value) in the not-quite or less-than human – a distinction that is, I argue, as geographical as it is historical. In this, I explore the way in which microbes at once more completely ‘monstrify’ the Other and themselves grow monstrous when they threaten to spillover or do traverse into the bodies of ‘civilized men.’ I empirically ground this argument by tracing a few examples of ‘monstrous microbes’ and the political work the narratives of monstrosity do, highlighting the ways in which they are at once geographical and racial, are based in fear, and have material impacts on the livability of subjects circumscribed through this frame. Through these moments, I unpack the geography of racialization alongside imagined geographies of disease (and the micro-geographies of ‘monstrous microbes’) as a way to highlight the more deeply induced precarity of some lives as rendered through disease and outbreak narratives.

  • Cosmopolitical subjectivity and the histories of place-making

    An exploration of the legal battle over reparations for the cholera outbreak in Haiti

    This current research project lie at the intersection of health, geopolitics, and development with an emphasis on health citizenship in Haiti as it is mediated through international health and development agendas, including militarized humanitarianism. In this, I am particularly interested in disrupting commonly-held histories of the first US occupation of Haiti in order to properly situate the devastating impacts of the January 12, 2010 earthquake within the legacy of the occupation. While the development community, and especially Special Envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton, eagerly asserted that the 2010 earthquake was an opportunity to “Build Back Better,” at root of my research is an exploration of “Build Back Better than what?” To simply start with January 11, 2010, as a baseline against which to “build back better” is to erase at least 100 years of military, political, and social interventions in Haiti. This erasure, I argue, empties the narrative space for the telling of what happened and why, making room for the insertion of uncritical discourses about progress and modernization. In the post-earthquake months, the cholera epidemic made manifest this tendency, exposing the ways in which Haiti and Haitians are pre-scripted as diseased through a global imaginary. Their current and ongoing battle for reparations from the UN, I argue, is not simply about a hand-out, it is about seeking justice and the right (both philosophically and materially) to govern their own bodies and to be recognized as political subjects on the global stage. Their fight is for recognition of Haiti not as a place where history happens to it, but as a place instrumental in the making of histories.