Research

Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both. ~C. Wright Mills

What distinguishes man/woman as human and differentiates us from all other living things is our ability to reflect upon our past and present experiences and to project visions and programs for human struggle to create a new future. ~James and Grace Lee Boggs

I study urban food systems, social movements, and social inequality. At the core of this inquiry is an ongoing curiosity with why power relations take certain forms and how people navigate fields of power to improve their lives and the lives of others. One of my central research endeavors involves bringing a food justice lens to focus on how social inequalities intersect with urban food systems, and the simultaneous ways in which social movements use food to resist and alter power relations. I investigate class, ethnic, and race relations in alternative food networks and food movements, the role of urban labor and land use politics in social mobilization around food, and the effects of differences in power and privilege on how and whether organizations address inequities in the food system. My work also examines coalition development in the food movement, and the degree to which such coalitions entrench or ameliorate social inequities. Relatedly, I am interested in social movement tactics that emerge during moments of crisis or in response to structurally unequal social conditions. Whether that entails tapping into strategies of mutual association to feed hungry people or occupying public space as a method of protest, my research works to uncover the mechanisms that stoke these forms of collective action. Overarching my scholarship is an explicit development and integration of neo-marxist political economy, post-marxist political theory, and critical race theory. I find that given the uneven constellation of social relations in the major metropolitan areas within which I do my research that these schools of thought help to enrich the sociological insights of my work.

My research relies primarily on qualitative and historical methods. I am interested in how people understand their social worlds and interpret their actions at the individual, organizational, communal, municipal, national, and networked scales. To deepen my comprehension of the discursive and behavioral ways in which people express themselves I relate this to broader social trends, institutional conditions, and historical and geographical particularities. I have also used quantitative instruments like surveys. Some of my current research maps the social network structure of social movement relationships. Such quantitative instruments provide a descriptive architecture that I can couple with qualitative outputs like interviews and fieldnotes.