I am a political economist in the classical sense: I am concerned with the ethical, political, and social implications and dimensions of economic activity. My research is concerned with the relationship between corporate capitalism, political power, and public debates about ethics and environmental values in the contemporary United States. I focus specifically on how these relate to the production, circulation, and consumption of everyday commodities. This work connects American politics and American cultural studies with political theory, environmental studies, and anthropological approaches to the study of value and economic activity.
My book project, Capitalist Pigs: The Making of the Corporate Meat Animal, draws on over two years of multi-method qualitative research and multi-sited ethnography at sites including slaughterhouses, state fairs, public relations firms, lobby groups, and brokerages throughout the USA. Across these sites, it traces how the American meat industry seeks to a produce a commodity that best suits market conditions – as biological animal, financial security, object of social imagination, and subject of political contestation - from conception through consumption. This work argues that corporations shape not only the food the public eats, but also policy, ethical discourse, and the contours of political action, as much in the agricultural heartland as among the general consuming public, legislators, and even animal rights activists. In doing so, Capitalist Pigs sheds light on the tensions and interrelations between market valuation, the value of life itself, and social values in the late-liberal, not-quite-post-industrial United States.
I have published widely in the academic and popular press on topics related to agriculture and food politics, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility, biodiversity protection and environmental politics, as well as the theory and practice of animal ethics. Most recently, I have turned my attention to an issue that brings together all of the above: the emergence of cellular agriculture (“clean meat”) and its potential to transform the American food landscape… for better or worse.
My other academic interests and side projects include exploring diverse modes of designing, deploying, articulating, and reconceptualizing ethnographic research methods to explore complex spaces (like transnational value chains), as well as conducting research on issues at the intersection between sport, violence, and masculinity.
I hold a Ph.D. and MPhil in Politics from the New School for Social Research, a Master’s in International Relations from Victoria University, and an MBA from Carleton University. My professional background spans journalism, municipal government, and the non-profit space, and I am fluent in Spanish, French, and Polish, bringing these diverse “multilingualisms” to my research and writing.
My work has been supported by a Doctoral Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), an Ira Katznelson Dissertation Fellowship from the New School for Social Research, a Human-Animal Studies Fellowship at Wesleyan University, a Graduate Student Fellowship at the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies, and a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of California-Santa Barbara.