I hold a PhD in Cultural Studies from UC Davis, with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. I am currently a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in environmental justice at Rice University.
My research addresses how power shapes rural environments, with a particular focus on the political ecology of agrarian change in the postcolonial Caribbean. In my work, I use ethnographic and historical methods to understand changing formations of power, knowledge, and capital in the Afro-Americas. My commitment to a liberatory political ecology is indebted to a long critical humanist tradition in Caribbean studies, and draws from my interdisciplinary training in cultural studies, environmental humanities, postcolonial theory, and comparative literature.
I have two book-length projects underway. My first book manuscript, Freedom’s Ground, puts ethnographic research conducted on Haiti’s high central Plateau since 2012 in conversation with the agrarian history of the region. In Freedom’s Ground, I examine how 20th century political transformations shaped the socio-ecologies of Haiti’s central borderlands. The book draws primarily from fieldwork conducted with the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP, or Peasants’ Movement of Papaye) to present an ethnography of one contemporary articulation in a geography of radical agrarian life that stretches across the Afro-Americas.
My second book-length project, Tropic of Cotton, is mostly archival, focusing specifically on the role that cotton production played in the expansion of US empire, and the way that Haiti was positioned as an axis of that imperial geography. I look at archival sources from the US Occupation of Haiti (1915-1934) to understand how US agricultural interests drew Haiti into a geography of US empire, and how that reshaped Haiti’s ecologies and the lives of the people who lived in central Haiti during the Occupation. In this project I am thinking with cotton to understand resistance as both a biological trait and a political one within the plantationocene.
Image: Woodring, Brown and Burbank geological map, published in Geology of the Republic of Haiti (1924)