As a cultural studies scholar, my research and teaching express a commitment to identifying and understanding the systems that create social inequities in the United States. By examining cultural practices critically, I 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. I am a publicly-engaged scholar and activist in the service of social justice.
My scholarship focuses on the inequities of the drug war and public drug policy. Drug criminalization and medicalization are twin forces in the United States that shape how we think about drugs and the people who use them. Our understanding about drugs, and the policies based on that understanding, is too often inaccurate. Misinformation informs sentencing inequities, our inability to stem the overdose crisis, and events panics like the recent vaping panic.
High: Drugs, Desire, and a Nation of Users, is an academic book written for general audiences about 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? It examines the ideologies and professional domains that support this division and shape public policy, the justice system, research, social services, and healthcare in ways that affect all Americans.
My TEDx talk, “Drugs and Desire,” illuminates stigmas surrounding psychoactive drugs, from caffeine to hallucinogens. In addition, I’ve published other peer reviewed scholarship about the normalization of cannabis in newly legalized and regulated contexts, drug pleasures and gender, and how we theorize intoxication. reviewed academic writing. As a publicly-facing scholar, 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.