Research

My research addresses the ways that marginalized communities carve out spaces for culture-making and how those spaces end up being sites for social relationships that resist or transcend colonial/racial capitalism. I focus especially on the legal, technological and physical contexts that shape how and when people can create spaces for expressing identities / communities that originate outside of colonial ideologies. This interest has led me to study illegal and extralegal cultural events from warehouse parties and street dances  to pirate radio, especially how or when they function as exilic spaces (sites in which people can enact less-colonized relationships to each other and to culture). I also study and develop critical analyses of legal and policy frameworks for regulating people through regulating their cultural practices, especially, (but not exclusively) through copyright law. My book (currently under review) examines Jamaican popular music's articulation of what I call “rude citizenship” : claims to space and rights that are rooted in challenges to state-defined social relationships. I use copyright law, with its assumptions about personhood, rights, and relationships to resources and culture as a lens through which to look at citizenship. Jamaican musical practices affirm citizenship and sovereignty  in very different ways than that required by the state, decentering colonially-defined social relationships, and functioning in certain ways as communal social system (defined more like peasant land communes than like creative commons). More recently I have followed those threads to research questions that challenge dominant conceptions of privacy, surveillance, transparency, and connection in technology and policy discussions.


Current Interests

Research into soundsystem epistemologies (hat tip Dr. Stef Alisch), and comparative exploration of picós in Barranquilla Colombia as way to develop a better understanding of sites of resistance and ways people redefine social relationships through music.

Research into the power of synchronous listening as a shared bodily experience that can generate feelings of collective intimacy: I'm interested in how and when people breathe, move, think and feel together and how those experiences matter especially for oppressed people.

Research into the ways knowledge held in the body (especially knowledge generated by and affirmed through collective social activities like dancing to music) destabilizes our understanding of time as linear and forward-moving, as people affirm historical and generational experiences and identities that go beyond the present moment in multiple directions.

Research into how different identities and communities require different understandings of privacy. Inspired especially by some preliminary work with the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, I am working on questions for how people can and do define their privacy needs from the ground up.