Research

I’m a socio-cultural anthropologist by training but I prefer the label scholar-activist since it better fits my commitment to conducting research with instead of for or about social movements. My research interests lie in the following areas:

  • culture, power, resistance, and alternative-building
  • globalization, transnational activism, and global justice
  • social change and social movements
  • radical imagination
  • political and critical theory
  • engaged/solidarity research

My research orientation is qualitative, in-depth, and long-term in nature. It is also explicitly political and committed to advancing struggles for social justice. I began my academic work on social movements by exploring the reasons for and consequences of the resonance of Zapatismo – the political philosophy of the Zapatista movement located in Chiapas, Mexico – upon diverse communities of political activists in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Rather than just mapping connections amongst a network of activists and organizers across North America, this research was about trying to understand the possibilities and limitations brought into being as new imaginations of political possibility circulate amongst radicals separated by cultural, political, and geographic distance as well as by axes of privilege and oppression.

My current research interests focus on the radical imagination and its relationship to movements for radical social change. More specifically, I’m interested in the emergence of powerful new projects aimed at envisioning and constituting new forms of community beyond rather than simply against dominant social, political, economic, and cultural formations. I am particularly interested in the ways in which new radical imaginations are envisioning socio-political transformations beyond rather than within the state form and, instead of conceiving of struggle within the hegemonic/counter-hegemonic binary, are engaged in articulating new visions of life lived in common. As a political landscape, these projects of radical social transformation are not just about politics, they are fundamentally engaged with the task of reimagining and rearticulating new ways of being in the world. My ongoing work with radical activists focuses on the anglophone North Atlantic and seeks to find ways of doing engaged research with social movements that makes research useful to struggles to build a better world. With Max Haiven I co-direct the Radical Imagination Project based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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