My research lies between political theory, feminist and queer theory, and American studies. It primarily investigates relationships between affect and politics, both terms broadly understood. "Affect" denotes embodied or public feelings and impersonal forces while "politics" is the arena wherein people confront systems of power like antiblackness, heteronormativity, and settler colonialism. I am particularly interested in how affect shapes political activity and vice-versa. This curiosity guides my inquiry into an array of topics, such as the place of attachments in maintaining political systems, how political activity involves humans and nonhumans alike, and which lives come to matter and which do not. The primary setting of my research is the United States, though I view its borders to be complicated by histories of slavery, dispossession, immigration, and global war. Ultimately, my research uncovers how power across the US works through affect and how engaging affect is vital to the pursuit of a better world.
Political theory, women's, gender, and sexuality studies, Asian American studies, African American studies, Indigenous studies
Affect, ordinary life, social change, biopolitics, aesthetics, new materialisms, the human, ecology and multispecies relations, futurity, intimacy, queer of color critique, settler colonialism, Hawaiʻi
I am presently conducting two major research projects. The first is a book project based on my dissertation, The Bad Good Life: On the Politics of Impasse. It examines how the good life inhibits changes to sociopolitical infrastructures—changes that may be integral to creating a more just, pluralist, and equitable social order. More information on this project may be found here.
The second project revises notions of the human in light of possible futures on themes of life, matter, and ecology. It explores how the human, ethics, and politics, may be refigured when it is confronted with prospects of decolonization, mass extinction, and the potential flourishing of other species. The project navigates a wide range of scholarship, including new materialisms, posthumanisms, and Asian American, Indigenous, and African American studies.
My research deforms and expands the enterprise of political theory. I pursue these ends through two primary methods.
First, I present scholars in fields such as feminist, queer, Asian American, African American, and Indigenous studies as political theorists. Academic divisions of labor often hold that so-called "minority studies," viewed as sociological or anthropological, have little to contribute to theoretical matters. By bringing scholars of those fields into conversation with more traditional political theorists, I not only diversify a canon and a discipline that are populated mostly by white men. I also expand the sites in which political thought may be found and thus alter what political thought looks like.
Second, I engage case studies in order to challenge, rather than confirm, theoretical frameworks at hand. I devise research methods that are appropriate to the problem under investigation. When developing a concept of affective atmosphere, I have navigated philosophy, anthropology, and cultural geography; when exploring attachments to Hawaiʻi as home, I have turned to new materialism, poetry, and autoethnography. By working at the interface of theory and practice, I develop concepts that emerge from a given political situation and are flexible enough to be adjusted to others.