about

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Florida State University (FSU) and the Co-Founder and Associate Director of Front Porch Research Strategy in New Orleans and a Co-Founder of the Tallahassee Bail Fund. I earned my Ph.D. in North American Religions from Columbia University, my M.T.S. in Islamic Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and my B.A. in Religion and Peace & Conflict Studies from Haverford College. Prior to joining the FSU faculty, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Dartmouth College.

In my time thus far at FSU, I have launched a community-directed research program on religion, race, gender, and abolition, with a particular focus on the American South and Gulf Coast. My work is deeply interdisciplinary, bridging the fields of Anthropology, History, Geography, Queer Studies, Black Studies, and American Studies. It is also deeply collaborative. As a longtime student of social movements, I work in partnership with organizers to theorize the operation of racial capitalism in our daily lives, and to explore how we can dream beyond what is to build together what must be. Doing so requires attending to the often-contradictory roles of religion in our worlds, be that as a force for expanding the violence that fills our present, or as a resource for building the world otherwise. These are precisely the grounded lessons I bring to bear in my undergraduate and graduate classrooms, for which I was recognized with a 2021–2022 University Teaching Award for Community Engaged Teaching.

Co-thinking and co-creating scholarship in these ways has fueled a breadth of intersecting and interlocking research interests. My first book project, Fire Dreams: Theory on the Ground in the New New Orleans (Duke University Press, forthcoming 2023), is a social movement ethnography collectively-authored with my longtime research partners at Women With A Vision in New Orleans. Fire Dreams blends social history, religious studies, and Black feminist theory to tell the story of southern Black women’s major contributions to harm reduction, mutual aid, and transformative justice. In the summer of 2022, I began work on a three-year public humanities collaboration with my colleague Dr. Jamil Drake called “The Callie House Project: Religion and Public Health in the Black Experience in the American South,” funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Working in partnership with Black women activists and health practitioners across the South, we will document the untold histories of reproductive justice organizing in our region and foment ongoing efforts to build a more just society for us all. This work will culminate in a living, digital archive of documents and oral histories that captures the experiences of race, religion, and public health in the long Black Freedom Struggle. The Callie House Project will also serve as a springboard for my second book project, Moral Medicine, which employs a similarly rigorous, community-driven research design to engage formerly incarcerated women as experts in excavating the hidden histories of gendered criminalization across the South today.

My research has been supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Institute for Citizens and Scholars’ Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, the Institute for Religion, Culture, & Public Life, the Dartmouth College Venture Fund, Florida State University’s Council on Research and Creativity, and the Robert B. Bradley Library Research Grants. I also remain deeply enmeshed in the movements to end AIDS and abolish prisons in which I was raised more than twenty years ago. I am the co-founder of TEACH Outside, Prison Health News, and the Institute for Community Justice, as well as the convener of the national Religion and Abolition activist/academic forum. Currently, I serve as a Board Member to Transforming Reentry Services in Chicago, and Reconstruction Inc. in Philadelphia.