PROFESSOR, AUTHOR, & DIRECTOR OF THE BIOCRITICAL STUDIES LAB
Death under the U.S. Medical Examiner/Coroner System
Coroner reports and autopsies conducted after a death under police custody have authority at the nexus of public health, forensic science, and state law. However, post-mortem medical examination reports rarely establish police culpability even when evidence indicates otherwise. This project investigates why.
[Elizabeth Catlett, Target, 1970, bronze, 19.5” x 12” x 15.75”, Collection of the Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. Photograph courtesy of the Elizabeth Catlett Estate.]
Critical Approaches to
Science and Religion
Critical Approaches to Science and Religion is a co-edited book manuscript written in collaboration with Myrna Perez-Sheldon and Ahmed Ragab. In this volume, we offer a new method for studying science and religion that centers critical race theory, feminist and queer theory, postcolonial and indigenous analysis. With this framing a new set of conceptual possibilities become available, allowing us to see how science and religion function together to both oppress and liberate. Our intentions are to reorient the ethical trajectory of the field to a more overtly political framework that centers the raced, gendered, sexualized, and colonized natures of science and religion.
The Life and Work of
Attending to the aesthetic dimension of social change and the curative power of representing society through artistic forms has become an increasingly important feature of my evolving research profile. To this end I have been developing a project on the work and activism of the Black American artist Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012). Catlett was an internationally acclaimed sculptor, printmaker, and socialist whose representations of the Black, Mexican, and Indigenous form explicitly challenged ideological beliefs about non-European peoples that proliferated within American science and popular culture since
the founding of the nation. Catlett would leave the U.S. in 1946 for Mexico City where she joined the revolutionary arts collective Taller de Gráfica Popular and would eventually teach at the National School of Fine Arts in Mexico City from 1958 until her retirement in 1976. Catlett’s life work offers a window into often forgotten moments of aesthetic exchange and political solidarity shared between Black American and Mexican artists in the fight for social justice.
[Photograph by Bernice Kolko, Elizabeth Catlett, courtesy of Elizabeth Catlett Estate]
Catastrophe, Time, and the Living
Epigenetic research has opened up space in the life sciences to understand how past trauma and catastrophic events remain in the present. Black people surviving under the conditions of structural violence and environmental racism have long been aware of this. I am working on a series of experimental writings that blend the genre of the essay, scientific research, religious studies, historical narrative, and cultural criticism to imagine how the human and ecological catastrophe of transatlantic slavery huants our bodies, our cities, and fragments time.