My research has a broad focus on humanitarian, peacebuilding, development, and human rights interventions and how they intersect with armed conflict and low-level insecurity. Much of my research on these topics has also incorporated communications technology and infrastructure, language and media, history, and sensory anthropology.
My current research project, my dissertation, concerns a two-way radio early warning network in rural Congo. I am interested in the practice, possibilities, and limitations of the technology itself, how it is used by humanitarians and local residents to communicate, and how it repurposes past iterations of communications towards humanitarian ends. I also investigate how the network defines, filters, and responds to insecurity, and what forms of (in)security it misses or assumes. My research addresses the politics, history, senses, labors, and routines of the early warning network, asking about competing definitions of (in)security, rural connectivity and disconnection, iterations of infrastructure, militarism and humanitarianism, the ethics of protection, sound and static, media affordances and communication, the politics of community self-defense, and histories of violence and intervention. I study these through over a year of qualitative fieldwork, including participant-observation, interviews, focus groups, and archival research. This dissertation research was funded by the Social Science Research Council, Wenner Gren Foundation, and National Science Foundation.
My previous research project, some aspects of which are still in progress, concerned the use of broadcast radio programs that encouraged rebels in and around northern Uganda to surrender. I study message production and reception, critique recent changes in demobilization practice, and analyze the use of justice and reconciliation narratives in peacebuilding. This research, begun in 2013, included interviews and participant-observation in northern Uganda and northeastern Congo.
I also completed a research project on the use of multiple Instagram accounts by users and the consequences of this practice for how we understand and distinguish between “channels” in media studies and linguistic anthropology. Drawing from a small set of interviews, my research looked at the curating practices that go into posting to Instagram, the logics and objectives behind these practices, and the ways that users turn to secondary accounts to represent themselves differently.
You can see my publications related to my research here.