Research
Program
 
 
 
 

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

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

This book draws on my ethnographic research in Burkina Faso to theorize African agricultural modernization through the lens of racial capitalism. Drawing on W.E.B. Du Bois and the sociology of race, I incorporate a historical analysis of colonialism and global political economy with attention to the ideological and cultural components of the global color line: how the very notions of modernity and development (peoples' horizons of aspiration) are deeply racialized and shape how people consent to and resist an unequal and unsustainable global system.