Grounded in the interdisciplinary tradition of Women’s Studies and shaped by my training in a blend of communication, sociology and a bit of history,
I focus my research most broadly on the relationships between gender, embodiment, and resistance through an intersectional feminist lens.
More specifically, I am interested in women-centered "everyday" activism in the areas of motherhood/mothering and women's reproductive health (particularly menstruation). In other words, I am curious about the “funky” movements that other scholars have typically neglected and try to use them to make sense of feminist thought and practice. I use the methods of critical ethnography to “get inside” through participant observation, and later in-depth interviewing.
Presently, I have shifted from doing and writing about my own fieldwork to editing a collection of the exciting new work of others. Together with Samantha Kwan, I am assembling a collection of ethnographic work, personal narratives, images and pedagogical resources that explore various dimensions of what some call “body outlaws”—those who refuse to play by the usual rules of what it means to be beautiful, sexy, proper, polite and so on. Embodied Resistance: Breaking the Rules, Challenging the Norms will be published by Vanderbilt University Press sometime in 2011. The collection includes pieces on women’s roller derby, The Red Hat Society, dominatrixes, men and cosmetic surgery, transgender people and “the bathroom question,” “bears,” online “pro-ana” communities and more.
As a teacher, I work to inspire students to acknowledge the complex interplay of oppression and privilege and the many ways they can use this information to create social change. I love teaching at UMass Boston—a place that attracts a student body rich with every kind of diversity—class, racial, ethnic, geographic, and linguistic. I can’t begin to describe how much my students have taught me since I joined the faculty in 2001. I teach Feminist Research Methods, Feminist Thought, a writing-intensive seminar “Gender & the Body,” Women & Society (a social scientific intro to Women’s Studies), Women & Activism and Women in US Social Movements (cross listed with our American Studies Department).
For me, doing service means findings ways to maximize the impact of the academy on public life and foster intellectual and activist community. Right now, my major service involves chairing our Women’s Studies Department (one of the oldest and most established in the country!) and serving on the board of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. In addition, I am an occasional blogger at SMCR's blog re:Cycling. I call another two feminist organizations “home” even if mostly in cyberspace: Sociologists for Women in Society and the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies--an innovative multi-institutional collaboration offering team-taught interdisciplinary graduate seminars in Women's and Gender Studies.