Category: Research

Counting on Montane Birds: Biologists, Verticality, and Territorial Defense in Colombia

This piece is about the unforeseen and sometimes overlooked connection between (i) birds living in the forests of Colombia’s high tropical Andes, (ii) local biologists supporting an anti-mining coalition by conducting an alternative baseline study, and (iii) the undertheorized production of upward vertical territories. (read more...)

The Allowable Limit of Disability

In February 2022 a court in Norway banned the further breeding and selling of British Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Beyond Norway, the ban has sparked conversation amongst UK and American breeders. The reason for this ban is the high rates of disability that affect the dogs; the official language is that the individuals are ‘disease guaranteed’. As a person whose work often overlaps with critical disability studies, I found myself obsessing about these news pieces. These dogs were banned because they were considered too disabled, this court was putting a limit on how disabled these dogs were allowed to be. My conclusion, after stewing on this for 6 months, is that disability is the limit of commodification and vice versa, commodification is the limit of disability. First, it is important to understand that these dogs are a commodity. And as a commodity, they have always been disabled. These (read more...)

Detangling Molecular Hauntings: Hair as a Site of Preserving Lived Experience

Hair is a dynamic biological structure and retains great social significance for humans. Hair can grow on most external areas of the body except for the palmar and plantar surfaces of the hands and the soles of the feet. The number of areas where hair is most noticeable is also the most commonly coiffed, trimmed, shaved, or plucked. These areas include the face, ears, head, eyebrows, legs, underarm, stomach, and pubic regions. As humans develop in utero into fully formed adults, hair growth signals hormone production such as pubertal development where secondary sex characteristics become more visible. Specifically for hair, it can be an indication that intertwines social identity, status, religion, economics, and politics. (read more...)

Inclusion and Opportunities for Equal Participation for Autistic University Students in France

Like the term “equal participation”, the words “inclusion” and “inclusive” are prevalent today. And they are all typically linked: “equal participation” is often the goal of initiatives focused on “inclusion.” Although the word “inclusive” might appear capacious (inclusive just means everyone, right?), projects focused on “inclusion” and “equal participation” often target specific populations of people who have previously been excluded from something. That’s the case of projects focused on the inclusion of autistic people into higher education, including one in France where I conducted ethnographic research for the dissertation I am currently writing on the changing categorization(s) of autism in France. (read more...)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Epistemologies – The Line Between Bodies and Ideas?

A recent trend in the sciences is the attempt to create inclusive research spaces, as evidenced by the formation of new diversity, equity, and inclusion (hereafter, DEI) initiatives, guidelines, and hiring practices. Archaeology, a field science that has long grappled with discriminatory, dangerous, and exclusionary research conditions, has also made strides to create safe and equitable spaces. However, the very epistemic foundations and practices of the discipline are yet to reflect the orientation toward inclusion. In today’s archaeology, the concepts of “data,” “methodology,” and “rigor” (among others), which form the bedrock of scientific endeavor, still reproduce the dominant Western views of science that at their core are fundamentally heteronormative. Those theoretical approaches in archaeology that are directly concerned with minority identities, values, and politics (e.g. Critical Race Theory, feminist theory, Indigenous studies) continue to be marginalized. The marginalization of these theoretical approaches is an unfortunate development because many of these works challenge the epistemic core of what we do as researchers. They have the potential to transform what we think of as good research, not just what this research produces. (read more...)

“Emeryville is Weird”

When I would tell people I worked in the small San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Emeryville, they would almost always say, “Emeryville is weird.” And then the conversation would usually stop there, they couldn’t put their finger on quite what they meant. But there’s a strangeness that hangs over the city that everyone feels, and no one can quite describe. Emeryville is mostly made up of tech campuses – the occasion for my fieldwork – and new condos, big box stores and biotech and software companies, along with some bars and restaurants for people on their breaks, and that’s nearly it, because the whole city is one square mile. Emeryville is busy during the day with professionals, who never stay more than a drink or two after work, and the place is mostly cleared out by night. It has a too new kind of feeling where all the buildings (read more...)

Viral Entanglements in Malaysian Porcine Worlds

Content warning: This blog post contains photos of factory farming that viewers may find distressing. Pigs squeal and scream as they lie down in group pens. The humid air in the foreground, the farm’s pipes churn out pig waste into the nearby river. This is Kampung Selamat, an industrialized area known for factory farming in mainland Penang, Malaysia. Its river, known as Sungai Kreh, is the living chronology of industrialized pollution. Since the 1980s, the river has turned from bright blue to lime green as 72 pig farms discharge antibiotics, pig feces, and pig carcasses into the water. The foul stench and waste reveal how intertwined pig lives are with the personal livelihood of Kampung Selamat’s villagers over time. (read more...)