Research Projects

DOING Research

In the undercommons of the university one can see that it is not a matter of teaching versus research or even the beyond of teaching versus the individualisation of research. To enter this space is to inhabit the ruptural and enraptured disclosure of the commons that fugitive enlightenment enacts, the criminal, matricidal, queer, in the cistern, on the stroll of the stolen life, the life stolen by enlightenment and stolen back, where the commons give refuge, where the refuge gives commons.” – The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study – Stefano Harney & Fred Moten

The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study – Stefano Harney & Fred Moten

I have cultivated a teaching ethic and practice that works in tandem with my research. The courses I have taught have been instrumental in pushing my research forward as they provide a space and importantly, the time to creatively think through some of the more challenging theoretical and practical aspects of my work. My research is primarily concerned with the historical and long-term roots of structural inequality and how these inequalities manifest in our society through efforts to either re-entrench or challenge the existing power structures. I seek to make connections between the local and global imaginaries of power and hierarchy, racism, and the legacies of colonialism that leads to the asymmetric appropriation of global wealth and power. And, I am particularly interested in how these affect Black people on the African continent and the diaspora, as well as how they inform, not only the possibilities for Black futures, but also how Black people organize to resist, and persist, under the conditions of modern racial capitalism. The courses I teach allow me the opportunity to generate a research agenda that is necessarily transdisciplinary and engages fundamental assumptions of the modern world system –antiblackness as rooted in global racial capitalism, as persistent, and cannot be limited to a singular historical period. In fact, my research understands racism, and antiblackness to be constitutive of the broader Western modernity enterprise.

As the Black Reconstruction as a Portal Mellon Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Scholar, my research is in conversation with Du Bois’ theorizations around race and class, particularly with regards to the global color line, and the potential for solidarity across this color line. Deliberating on Black Reconstruction as a Portal, I would like to think through and explore Black disposability as it relates to the advancement and curtailment of Black progress here in the US and globally as potentially cyclical and tied to crises points in capitalist accumulation –cycles that conjures images of waves or beats changing in intensity and alluding to the Black Atlantic.


Research Projects

Black People Thriving: Creating and Organizing Resilient Communities: In this project I identify the structural constraints to social group mobility and success and examine how these constraints unfold in the quotidian lives of Black people in the Inland Empire. Understanding community work and organizing, as an embodied intellectual practice based on mutual respect, social responsibility and mutual understanding, and in collaboration with community partners, I pay close attention to how Black folx continue to create and organize vibrant communities in the face of black disposability ideology, red lining, white flight, gentrification, further economic marginalization and especially environmental racism (Robert D. Bullard).  The project centers Black people being fully themselves in IE communities and with other Black people, but also highlights the beautifully rhizomorphic formation of Black(ness) and Black people. I ask, what are the ways in which Black space-making and place-making develop Black interiority (Elizabeth Alexander) and how is that related to Black aliveness (Kevin E. Quashie). We engage community-based participatory research practices that deepens our relationships with community organizations, individuals, and spaces in socially responsible and ethical ways to co-create a living, historical document of Black people organizing and thriving in the IE. This project has already been launched as part of a course that I am currently teaching at Pitzer College. I have been working closely with the Community Engagement Center at Pitzer College to establish relationships with community partners and organizations. The Scalar site for the project, is here. The student website developed around this project, is here.

Coloniality, Blackness, and Regimes of Disposability: This project seeks to reveal the links between current and historical power configurations and the racialized foundations of the modern world system that lead to the deployment of regimes of disposability against, and the abjection of, Black people on the continent and the diaspora. Current Papers: Critical World-Systems Analysis: Thoughts on Organizing Against Anti-Blackness Across Global-Local Boundaries(DOI:10.5195/JWSR.2022.1103); “Coloniality, Regimes of Disposability and COVID19 on the African Continent” (In Progress).

Small Island Development and Climate Change – Questions at the center of the project include: what types of development strategies are currently available to a small island developing state like Dominica in today’s global economy? How does global climate change affect and influence these strategies and the overall political economy of the country? What is the role of global governance with regards to the impact of climate change on SIDS like Dominica? Agriculture and fishing sectors make up a significant portion of the Dominica’s balance of payments so how does climate change affect those sectors specifically? Papers: Small Island Developing States and Climate Change: The Case of Dominica presented at American Sociological Association 8/2019 (Presentation); Small Island Development in the Age of Global Climate Change presented at Caribbean Studies Association and as a Talk* at the University of California Riverside’s Bio Dept. Senior Seminar 11/2020.

Commodification of Citizenship – Commodified citizenship has been on the rise in developing countries since the early 1990s. I have collected administrative data on the commodified citizenship program in Dominica for the period 1990 to 2015 for a case study. Additional, lines of inquiry include, examining the relationship between commodified citizenship and political legitimacy, exploring questions pertaining to cross-border security, and commodification of citizenship as resistance to the global power order and thinking otherwise. (Peer Reviewed Paper)

Power & Hierarchy: African Underdevelopment in World Historical Perspective – Framing this research on fellow Caribbean scholar, Walter Rodney’s, and that of world-system scholars I establish Africa’s position in the modern world-economy, historically and under the current world order. I seek to empirically demonstrate the structural and historical constraints the continent faces in the highly unequal global capitalist system. I acknowledge Africa’s agency from a regional and various national perspective. (Peer Reviewed Paper; Talk* to UCR Sociology Dept – 11/2020)[*in Keynote]

COVID19 Pandemic Coverage in the United States – Narratives and reporting have the power to change public opinions, promote specific public policies, and reframe public discourse on a subject. Keeping this in mind, I have designed a research project that seeks to empirically measure this. I am in the process of creating a dataset of articles from five leading newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and the Houston Chronicle), to help identify and track narrative changes in print media, covering the period February 1, 2020 to August 1, 2020. (California Sociological Association Annual Meeting Presentation* – 11/2020)[*in Keynote]

Tracing the evolution of distant othering and racism (in collaboration with Anderson and Chase-Dunn at IROWS) – research project on the geneology of othering, positing that othering has existed in some form or another since the Stone Age, evolving with the uneven expansion of social complexity and the emergence of hierarchies. Our argument is that at its core, distant othering involves the fear of a perceived threat to the existing social order and furthermore with the emergence of global capitalism, the racialized version of othering is violent, a violence that becomes particularly intense when rates of profit collapses (i.e. economic crises) and/or when group-status is threatened. (Preprint SocArXiv)

Southern California Community Initiatives for Improved Well-being (in collaboration with C. Ivey, UC Riverside’s College of Engineering, Center for Environmental Research and Technology) – The project leverages wearable sensors to measure a person’s individual exposure, on a day to day basis, to PM2.5 and PM10 PM2.5 in internal (at home and at work) and external (during commutes, while outdoors) spaces. As part of this project, we measure and try to understand disparities in exposure in Southern California’s Inland Empire across varying socioeconomic backgrounds. (Peer reviewed paper)