Research and Writing

 As an exophonic writer, my academic interests revolve around power dynamics, especially in connection to language and the land. My research in the social sciences examines gentrification as a form of neocolonialism, specifically focusing on the criminal justice system. In the humanities, I study poetic praxis towards the decolonization of English as a language.

Selected research projects:

Linguistic Disobedience: Towards a Lyric Theory of Intactness in Contemporary American Poetry

Poem Credit: Natalie Diaz, Postcolonial Love Poem

Oxford English Dictionary 
Intact, adj.
Definition: “Untouched; not affected by anything that injures, diminishes, or sullies; kept or left entire; unblemished; unimpaired”
Etymology: “Latin intactus, <in– [prefix expressing negation or privation] + tactus, past participle of tangĕre to touch”

To be intact–to be unbroken–is to be untouched. Theodore Adorno defines lyrical language as an expression of an individual’s personal subjectivity into universality through specific concepts and signs. However, to render a minoritized subject into a language designed to oppress them is to make that subjectivity lose its intactness. By bringing in Paul Ricoeur’s conception of the metaphor as a discursive linguistic act which has to work on the level of the sentence as a thought-structure, this essay examines how line breaks and metaphors allow the expression of a minoritized subjectivity. I argue that the poetry of Ilya Kaminsky and Natalie Diaz disrupts the logic of the sentence and unsettles the metaphor, breaking the “wholeness” of the sentence while maintaining the “intactness” of the thought. This essay applies sociolinguistics to contemporary American poetry in order to theorize the place of the poetic line in Ricoeur’s rule of the metaphor. If “in the phenomenon of the sentence, language passes outside itself,” then the breakage of that sentence into the poetic line has the potential to decolonize that oppressive language.

Keywords: intactness, decolonization of language, poetic line, metaphorical integrity

Presented at: Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium
Published in: The Macksey Journal

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Gentrification in the Jury Room

Photo Credit: Dr. Nicholas Garcia

Growth in gentrification research in criminology focuses primarily on how demographic and economic transformations in urban neighborhoods impact interpersonal interaction. However, there is little research on the impact of gentrification-induced demographic change with another form of discrimination within the criminal justice system: jury bias. Building on previous research on jury bias, I seek to integrate existing literature on gentrification with that on jury bias to see if a theorized correlative relationship exists. Does the level of demographic change in residents of different jurisdictions (in separate stages of the gentrification process) correspond with a change in conviction rates? Do demographic changes in those jurisdictions correlate with demographic changes in juries? To answer these research questions, I utilize 2011-2018 New York State Unified Court System data on jury composition and conviction rates across four NYC jurisdictions. I examine correlations between these variables and broader gentrification indicators obtained through housing and demographic data from 2000-2018. I then perform tests of significance to determine whether differences in jury composition and conviction rates vary according to the degree of gentrification in each borough. I find that boroughs in more advanced stages of gentrification reflect whiter jury composition and higher rates of conviction than those in less advanced stages. Differences across boroughs are significant at the 0.001 level. My research makes an important contribution to assessing the criminological impact of gentrification. Understanding how the gentrification process reshapes our justice system has implications for exacerbating bias already present within jury trials.

Keywords:  gentrification, jury bias, conviction rates, New York City, demographic change, neocolonization

Presented at: The 2020 Eastern Sociological Society Annual Conference

In Other Words: Colonialism and Power Dynamics in Literary Translation Praxis

“Translation as a practice shapes, and takes shape within, the asymmetrical relations of power that operate under colonialism.”

-Tejaswini Niranjana

Photo Credit: Christina Pfister

This project examined the lasting impact of colonialism on translation praxis for individual translators and their position as post-colonial subjects. The central goal of the project was to study the macro-level forces of colonialism, cultural imperialism and inequalities in language power dynamics created by the same through the micro-level questions of individual translators’ approach to craft and ethics in their work.

Centered around the 2019 International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School delivered by the British Centre for Literary Translation, the methodology of the project consisted of extensive interviews with both experienced and emerging translators.

Quantum Santeria: Afrofuturism in Cuba

Art piece by Ares

The position of science fiction as a genre in Latin America is that of an imported/borrowed/foreign genre that is consistently associated and draws from the discourse of political and cultural colonialism and, by extension, neocolonialism. Miguel Ángel Fernández Delgado went as far as to point out that Mexican science fiction writers are perceived as cultural sellouts as “cultivators of a literary movement that came from the outside.” The only exception he makes to this rule is Cuba because Cuban science fiction, for decades, was regarded by the Cuban government and by literary critics as an instrument for revolutionary change. This project examined the revolutionary abilities and potentials of Cuban Afrofuturism specifically the role that Santeria plays in creating the same.

Published Academic Work

Independent Study Projects

During my undergraduate career, I have designed and completed two independent studies, under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

Translation Theory

Department: International Language and Cultures, Washington College
Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Hull

Course Description:
This course is an overview of the theoretical perspectives on translation. It will cover the major concepts, issues and theories of translation and assist students in making the connection between translation theories and practice. It will consider what is meant by a “good translation” and the on-going debate of how literal or free a translation should be in reference to text types, audience, purpose and cultural aspects of the translation. Due to the practical translation work in the class, high level ability in a non-English language is required for the course. The instructor will evaluate language ability.

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Department: English, Washington College
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Alisha Knight

Course Description:
This course is an overview of Afrofuturism as a literary genre and a cultural aesthetic, and its engagement with the black diaspora, sociopolitical inequality in various forms, science fiction, technological development and the definition of “human.” It will consider how the experiences and concerns of black people throughout the diaspora inform specific developments in Afrofuturism like utopianism/dystopianism, constructions of time, feminism and posthumanism. The course will examine the contexts and debates surrounding Afrofuturism from an intersectional and transdisciplinary perspective to develop an understanding of its history, significance, and aesthetics.

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