Research

Research Interests

Political Theory: Democratic theory, critical theory, decolonial theory, feminist political theory, theories of justice, theories of human rights

Peace Studies: Religion and peacebuilding, religion and political violence, strategic peacebuilding, transitional justice and post-violence reconciliation, nonviolent social movements

Religious Studies: Political theology, theological ethics, theoretical constructions of religion and the secular


Dissertation

“Pluriversal Peacebuilding: Decolonial Democracy, Religion, and the Epistemic Politics of Peace”

Committee: Atalia Omer (co-chair), Ernesto Verdeja (co-chair), Eileen Botting, Jason Springs

The operative understandings of democracy, peace, and their interrelation that have animated international peacebuilding efforts over the last several decades rely on unreconstructed ontopolitical assumptions implicated in world-historic levels of structural and cultural violence, captured for some decolonial theorists by the concept of modernity/coloniality. Using insights from decolonial theory and certain strains of contemporary democratic thought, this project develops a hermeneutic of engagement  that builds on Walter Mignolo’s notion of democracy as a decolonial “connector” through which to pursue “pluriversality as a universal project.” The project links political theory with peacebuilding by indicating resources within the Western canon of political thought capable of engaging with the diverse epistemologies demanded by decolonial “border thinking,” and integrates these insights into a new approach to thinking about peace predicated on local on attention to power and difference, and grounded in the practices, epistemologies, and the political capacities of ordinary people in post-violence settings and committed to generative democratic contestation and collaboration.


Publications

“Hideous Aspects: Levinas, Decolonial Barbarity, and the Limits of Ethical Encounter in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” for Creolizing Frankenstein, ed. Michael Paradiso-Michau (Rowman & Littlefield International, forthcoming).

“The Truth Commissions of Guatemala: Plurality and Particularity in the Human Rights Paradigm,” in The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School, Volume 5, Spring 2010.

“A New Space for Justice: Reflections on Honduras,” in Witness: The Culture of Violence. Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Spring 2010


Work In Progress

“Chains of White Grievance: Mouffe, Hegemony, and Ethno-Nationalist Strategy” (To be presented at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Fall 2019)

“‘In the West but not of the West: Wittgenstein, Pluriversal Dialogue, and Decolonial Forms of Relationality”

“‘A Terrific Boomerang Effect’: Arendt, Césaire, and Fanon on the Colonial Origins of Totalitarianism”


Academic Research Presentations

Chains of White Grievance: Mouffe, Hegemony, and Ethno-Nationalist Strategy, American Political Science Association (August, 2019)

A Powerful Spring of Action: The Restorative Justice of Mary Wollstonecraft, Wollapalooza II: Daughters, Dissenters, Democracies, Discontents, American Political Science Association (September, 2018)

Hideous Aspects: Levinas, Decolonial Barbarity, and the Limits of Ethical Encounter in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Why Frankenstein Matters at 200: Rethinking the Human Through the Arts and Sciences (July, 2018)

Constructive Conflict in Decentered Democracies: Prospects for Agonistic Peacebuilding, Midwest Political Science Association (April, 2018)

Wrath and Reasoning on (In)Justice: The Prophetic Politics of Mary Wollstonecraft and Cornel West, Wollapalooza: Making the Wollstonecraftian Mind, American Political Science Association (August, 2017)

The “Radical Disjunction” Examined: Blackstone and the Limits of Revolution in the Federalist/Anti-Federalist Debate, Midwest Political Science Association (April, 2017)

Conceptualizing “Success” in Transitional and Post-Violence Justice: New Evidence and Enduring Questions, International Studies Association (February, 2017)

Corpses and Coercion: The Regulation of Pity and Grief as “Lawless” Desires in Plato’s Republic, Northeastern Political Science Association (November, 2016)

Nuclear Famine: Gamed Systems, Global Consequences, Professors for Peace Conference, (February, 2013)

Nuclear Famine: Environmental Costs and Consequences of Nuclear (In)Security, Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference (September, 2012)

PECS in the Real World: PECS Alumni Post-Guilford, Fleming Lecture Series, Guilford College (April 2011)

Military, Church, & Citizen Mobilization in Honduras, Harvard Divinity School (April, 2010)

Human Rights in Honduras After the Coup, Union Theological Seminary (March, 2010)

Human Rights in Honduras After the Coup, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University (February 2010)

Race, Structural Violence, and the War on Drugs, Phi Sigma Tau, Philosophical Society of the University of Louisville (October, 2007)

The American Nightmare: Consumer Culture and Identity, Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference (September, 2007)

Privilege, Power, and Oppression in Peace Work, Metta Center for Nonviolence Education (August, 2007)


Professional Research Experience

Research Associate for Contending Modernities, University of Notre Dame, 2016-present

  • Worked as a research associate with Prof. Atalia Omer to write, edit, and solicit articles for the Contending Modernities research and education initiative on the dynamics of religious and secular forces in late modernity.

Research Delegate to San Pedro Sula, Honduras on behalf of Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies and David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, January 2010

  • Conducted interviews on the role of religion in the opposition work of women’s, workers’, and other human rights organizations in the wake of the 2009 coup d’état.
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