My research examines problems of oppressive institutions, affects, and social relations despite widespread formal commitments to end oppression. I am interested in the structural dynamics underlying ongoing oppressions.
My doctoral thesis, Guilt, Blame, and Oppression: A Feminist Philosophy of Scapegoating, is a work of social and political philosophy, with focus on social epistemology, ethics, feminist theory, and critical philosophy of race. My thesis develops a novel philosophy of scapegoating to help explain ongoing oppression. On my account, scapegoating is a structuring mode of oppression that influences our social relations, institutional structures, affective habits, and group identities, all while remaining largely hidden from us.
Methodologically, my work combines philosophical analysis with real life cases of oppression, both historically and currently; this gives contextual depth and lived sense to the phenomena that I analyze. It is important to me that my work is in touch with the reality of lived oppression.
For example, my publication in Ithaque uses an epistemic injustice framework alongside a critique of the politics of recognition to argue that the Canadian state is currently in a non-reciprocal relationship with Indigenous peoples as a result of epistemic failure on the part of the state.
I also have a decade of experience researching and online publishing on a range of issues including racial injustice, gender inequality, and mental health stigma. I have built an online following of around 10,000 people who engage with my work on these issues. Some examples of my online work include my years working for the website EverydayFeminism.com, an educational platform with over four million monthly visitors.
My current FRQSC-funded research project, Blame and Shame on the Internet: Between Accountability and Exclusion, examines the internet as a shared social space that is rife with accusations, public shaming, and social exclusion. I believe that we have good reason to learn to recognize when (and if) we are weaponizing shame for good, and when we are acting unjustly. The public politics of accountability have brought about meaningful conversations (e.g., the #MeToo movement) and have allowed for groups that are traditionally marginalized to organize resistance against abuse and oppression. The use of blame and shame online is complicated by its usage as an activist strategy of moral reform by groups that have previously struggled to find a foothold of power. Ultimately, online practices of accountability, public blaming, or even ‘cancel culture’ are much more complicated than simply helpful or harmful. They require nuance, context, and historicity in order to be understood and harnessed for social good. My project involves an analysis of the intersections between the ethical and political impacts of blaming and shaming, with attention to a historical context of scapegoating and contemporary calls for accountability.