RESEARCH

My research interests broadly encompass areas of social psychology, critical psychology, personality psychology, liberation psychology and sociology.  

My dissertation entitled, “Persistent Dehumanization and Intellectual Disability: Tracing the Mechanics of Moral Exclusion,” in many ways, is a story of the presence of an absence. Through a landmark court case, I examine how an entire argument about whether someone’s body and rights were violated can be composed without ever involving the very person the argument is focused on. Here, I study the assumptions not far behind ideas considered objective evidence, to scrutinize the illusion of normalcy, and to create an opportunity to collectively dispel such illusions. The historical excavation of the development of the construct of intellectual disability in psychology paved the way for a re-theorization of what it means to be human. I carefully reveal the mechanics of moral exclusion that allow for the erasure of bodies, and minds.

 

My work documents how notions of intellectual disability trickle out of psychology’s boundaries, into the court, into the everyday narrative, and into bodies. I trace historical understandings of intellectual disability into the present and document how these are contested within the courtroom and in the collective cultural imagination. Through the narrative analysis of early superintendents’ letters, court transcripts, and comments in the New York Times, I show that mechanics of moral exclusion generated within a eugenic past continue to reverberate in the present. At the same time, both within the courtroom and in comments by the public, these abuses are actively contested and radical possibilities for justice are asserted.

Building on my dissertation, I am currently examining the strategies of survival that are employed by communities that are struggling against aggressive forms of exclusion and dehumanization. This is in conjunction with studying the construction of political debates around care.

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