top of page

My research agenda investigates how cultural politics intersect with the forces of capitalism to produce and naturalize social inequalities and environmental degradation. At a broad level, I am interested in connecting processes across sites and scales; while a large component of my research has examined agrarian change in West Africa, I have also studied status politics among white runners in Boulder, Colorado and am currently studying racialized representations and Malthusian discourses at the Denver Zoo. Across my work, I use ethnographic methods to examine how the inequalities of neoliberal racial capitalism are produced and justified, drawing on theories of embodiment, culture, and status. 

I am particularly interested in the following sociological questions:

At the broadest level: 

  • How do people justify inequality?

  • The dilemma of just sustainability: how do we figure out how to organize human societies to be both ecologically sustainable and more socially just?

More specifically:

  • How do cultural processes secure consent (or resistance) to capitalism?

  • What are the connections between racism, capitalism, and neoliberalism? How do these ideological and material systems operate and how are they intertwined with each other? How are these systems related to environmental inequalities and our ecological crises?

Although trained as a sociologist, I consider myself an interdisciplinary scholar. I work at the interface of many fields, and have trained in geography (at CU Boulder) with a focus on political ecology. Some of my sub-fields include: 

  • Environmental Sociology, Political Ecology, Race and Racism, Food and Agriculture, Environmental Inequality, Development, Science and Technology Studies, Qualitative Methods, Health and Embodiment

White Gold, Black Debt: Racial Capitalism and Agricultural Modernization in West Africa

This book White Gold, Black Debt interrogates the process and consequences of agricultural modernization in the cotton sector of southwestern Burkina Faso, where farmers have expanded their use of agricultural technologies such as pesticides and genetically modified seeds while exporting cotton to the global market. Through ethnographic data, I show how this process reproduces both global and local inequalities and unravels ecological and social webs of interconnection. At the same time, rural people play key roles in these changes, defying a simple characterization of global capitalism bearing down on rural Africa. I situate these dynamics within the economic and ideological history of racial capitalism, arguing that racial hierarchies and imaginaries ­– and the myriad ways that differently situated people navigate them ­­– play an under-examined role in shaping agricultural modernization in contemporary Africa.
bottom of page