I am an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College, in Boston, MA, USA. My research interests include democratization, minority rights, memory politics, and social movements in the Global South and the United States.
My current research looks at decolonization and human rights in a variety of spaces such as high schools, colleges, prisons, and within educational media like textbooks. I have been working in collaboration with the Yurok Tribe's Education Department since 2016 to document the impact of heritage-language access in public education in far northern California, and I also work comparatively in southern Mexico on cultural resilience projects. Working with young people in schools to better understand how education can support wellness and participation helps keep me hopeful about the world. I published Indigenous Language Politics in the Schoolroom: Cultural Survival in Mexico and the United States (University of Pennsylvania 2023) to document some of this work.
I came to study education policy from memory politics. My first book, Democratization and Memories of Violence: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador (Routledge 2017) examines how ethnic minority communities use memories of violence in mobilizations for cultural rights, particularly the right to mother tongue education. I argue that violence-affected communities use memory-based narratives in order to shame states into cooperating with claims for cultural rights protections. Shaming and claiming is a social movement tactic that binds historic violence to contemporary citizenship.
My interests in the rights of marginalized communities extend in many directions. I am the founder and Director of the Emerson Prison Initiative (EPI), which seeks to bring a BA pathway to incarcerated students at Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord (MCI-Concord), a men’s medium-security state prison. EPI follows the model of college-in-prison work led by the Bard Prison Initiative and the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison.
Since 2016, I have served as a pro bono expert witness for asylum hearings regarding country conditions for people from El Salvador and Mexico, drawing from my longstanding research on the effects of state- and power-based violence on historically marginalized communities, including women and girls. Prior to joining the faculty at Emerson College, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research in Duisburg, Germany, and I returned to Germany as a Senior Fellow in Education for Sustainable Peace at the Leibnitz Institute-Georg Eckert Institute in 2022.
I have published in a wide range of journals, and many of my writings are linked under the thematic tabs on this site. Read and let me know what you think! I hold a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, USA, and an MA in International Studies/Peace and Conflict Resolution from the University of Queensland, Australia. I have lived, worked, and studied on six continents – no Antarctica for me! My mantra is "There are many ways to live."
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