I am Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University--New Brunswick, where I investigate the intersections between race, gender, and sexuality in U.S. culture. I am particularly interested in: the history of feminism; how “woman” functions as a category of whiteness; and ideas about how the body interacts with its environment from the periods before and after classical genetics, i.e. the 19th century and the present. I am currently writing a history of white feminist politics in the U.S, profiling iconic figures who in fact wielded supremacist tactics that liberated white women at the expense of the rights and opportunities of women of color.
My first book The Biopolitics of Feeling: Race, Sex, and Science in the Nineteenth Century was published by Duke University Press in 2018. The Biopolitics of Feeling unearths how scientific ideas about the varying impressibility of the body, or its capacity to be affected over time, led to the modern logics of race difference and the male/female binary. The Nation interviewed me about the book and its implications for politics today.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, I was an External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center. I have previously held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the UC Humanities Research Institute and a visiting scholar position at UC Berkeley. My essays appear in academic journals such as American Quarterly and GLQ and popular outlets such as Los Angeles Review of Books and Post Road. The essays explore topics including: our interdependence with microbial life; the cultural history of cosmetic surgery in the Americas; and Native resistance to the use of the evolutionary sciences to legitimate settler colonialism in the nineteenth century. I am currently co-editing a special issue of American Quarterly (with Greta LaFleur) on "Origins of Biopolitics in the Americas," to appear in September 2019, as well as a special issue of Social Text (with Jules Gill-Peterson) on “The Biopolitics of Plasticity” to appear in June 2020. My research often explores how science and culture function as systems of knowledge that share methods and sources in common, even as they rhetorically claim distinct spheres.