I. Gendered Violence in Northeast India: Centering Women’s Analysis

This project investigates gendered patterns of violence in Garo Hills, India. My previous research in the region has underscored the overarching discourse of masculinity and heteronormativity characterizing public discourses surrounding ethnic conflict. Rather than generalize about “Garo tribal women” based on stereotypes or assumptions, my research explores how Garo women define their own identities at the intersections of gender, race and socioeconomic class. Through intensive fieldwork conducted during periods of escalated armed conflict, my research illuminated multiple forms of violence—domestic violence, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, direct violence, and economic exploitation—that shape Garo women’s daily lives. While most institutions in the region justify or deny the violence experienced by Garo women, the women’s own narratives create a powerful alternative and have important policy implications. Foregrounding Garo women’s critical analysis, my research seeks to unearth the spectrum of violence experienced by Garo women and the processes through which patriarchal power is reproduced in conflict situations. (Collaborator: Ms. Balmuri K. Marak)

II. Action Research in Lowell

One area of my research program uses participatory and action research methodologies to understand, document, and strive to address everyday violence (direct, structural, and symbolic) experienced by youth in Lowell, MA. As importantly, this project is also about exploring and creating opportunities for critical youth assertion and youth resistance. There are two major projects in this area:

  1. The Lowell Youth Photovoice Project. This project explores youth perspectives on everyday violence using a participatory action research approach. We document local youth experiences and their explanations about the multiple forms of violence in their communities. By doing so, this project hopes to: i) provide a more nuanced understanding of the contexts of everyday violence in the lives of youth in Lowell, and ii) use that understanding to inform community-based intervention efforts. Research here serves as vehicles for engaging local youth in a community needs assessment process, critically examining the sources of normalized violence in their lives, and sites of resistance.  (Collaborators: Lowell Community Health Center’s Teen BLOCK)

  2. A Community-Based Digital Storytelling Project: This project uses collaborative digital storytelling to elicit, document, and disseminate local youth perspectives on community. Digital storytelling involves the use of multimedia technologies (e.g., text, graphics, photographs, video, music, audio narration) to create and share first-person accounts on a specific topic. As a formal research and community-building practice, digital storytelling emerged in the mid-90s and has been used as a vehicle for expression of marginalized voices. This project positions youth as knowledge-generators and social change agents who use digital stories to collaboratively create and present narratives highlighting critical issues impacting their communities. (Collaborators: Dr. Jenna Vinson, Lowell Community Health Center’s Teen BLOCK, YWCA Lowell)

III. The Epistemic Justice Project

The political economy of knowledge thrives on divisions such as center-periphery, metropole-colony, or centrality-dependency—where the primary role of the periphery/colony is to supply data for and subsequently apply the knowledge produced in the metropole; this epistemic colonization is intertwined with ontological colonization that establishes different levels of humanity (Bulhan, 1985; Connell, 2014; Maldonado-Torres, 2016; Santos, 2015). Epistemic justice involves disrupting the intellectual hegemony of the Euro-American knowledge enterprise as well as center subjugated knowledges (Maldonado-Torres, 2007; Seedat & Suffla, 2017). Toward those ends, my theoretical work focuses on the following areas:

  • Decolonizing the construct of “community” in community psychology theory, research, practice, and training

  • Rethinking citizenship and belonging by centering Southern contexts and feminist theory

  • Scrutinizing material and ideological underpinnings of how violence is (de)legitimatized

  • Imagining and enacting solidarity and resistance against the onslaught of neoliberal institutions