As a cultural studies scholar, my research and teaching express a commitment to understanding the systems that create social inequities in the United States. By examining cultural practices critically, I seek to trace their relation to and reproduction of the social systems of law, public health, education, media, etc. that empower and disempower people living in the United States. My research is applied social justice work—I am a community-engaged scholar and activist.
My book, High: Drugs, Desire, and a Nation of Users, is a study of how we think about, regulate, and use psychoactive drugs in the United States. It asks a fundamental question about drug policy and social norms in the United States: Why do we endorse the use of some drugs while criminalizing the use of others? This illogical separation shapes public policy, the justice system, research, social services, and healthcare in ways that affect all Americans. My TEDx talk, “Drugs and Desire,” explores the stigmas surrounding psychoactive drugs, from caffeine to hallucinogens. In addition, I’ve published about the normalization of cannabis in newly legalized and regulated contexts, drug pleasures and gender, and how we theorize intoxication. In addition to peer-reviewed academic writing, I publish editorials and general audience work based in my research. I am also part of a founding group of journalists, researchers, and writers who seek to better inform the ways in which drugs and the people who use them are represented in U.S. media: Changing the Narrative.
Previous scholarship has focused on conspiracy theory as a political discourse in American culture as expressed in literature, television dramas (The X Files, The Sopranos), comix, and other texts featuring gang culture and white supremacism. Read more about my research and public work at my website.