Profile of a Researcher
I am a rhetoric and writing researcher who uses qualitative methods to understand how internet-based cultural communities make meaning and share knowledge about their health via digital platforms. My research and community organizing constellates across technical and professional communication, digital/cultural/material rhetorics, health and medical rhetorics/literacies, and science, technology, and medicine studies.
As a community-engaged scholar, I am especially attuned to issues of health and disability justice, technological colonialism, and how queer and trans Black, Indigenous, and People of Color survive and thrive. I am a founding member of and current organizer in Queer Medicine, a grassroots coalition of queers taking their health into their own hands that operates in and around Lansing, MI, through which I have worked with the Michigan Public Health Institute, the Ingham County Health Department, and the Salus Center, Lansing's first and only queer resource center.
My current manuscript projects focus on community-specific health literacies of HIV/AIDS on social media and attuning communication design for such knowledges, Indigenous science/cosmologies as digital rhetorical praxis, and ethical community-engaged research methodologies. I am also planning a book project that examines three case studies of queer and trans BIPOC digital rhetorical practices to outline a community-based framework of health literacy. You can read more about my current projects below.
Below, you will find details, abstracts, and references for some my main manuscript projects. If something strikes your fancy and you'd like to talk more, please reach out. I'm always happy to talk!
"OK Sexual Health Twitter": Toward an Online Community Health Literacy of Sexual Health
In my dissertation, “OK Sexual Health Twitter”: Toward a Community Framework of Sexual Health Literacy, I develop an non-clinical HIV/AIDS health literacy framework built from the rhetorical strategies that queer and trans Black, Indigenous, and People of Color use to make meaning of their sexual health on Twitter. Over the past two years, the pharmaceutical company Gilead and its patent for Truvada, an HIV-prevention medication, have received much scrutiny. Likewise, prophylactic adoption and changing stigma around sexual health within queer and trans communities have undergone rapid developments, and both have commensurate energy on various social media and especially Twitter. With my dissertation project, I tuned into these conversations to see how queer and trans BIPOC make meaning of their sexual health amid shifting sexual mores, prophylactic developments, and pressure from the medical industrial complex, connecting them to current health and medical rhetorics and health literacy scholarship. By incorporating these strategies into a non-clinical public health tool, I argue that scholars and public health officials must expand popular health literacy frameworks to include both community knowledges and the ways they circulate on social media platforms such as Twitter.
I created a qualitative study (informed by Indigenous and decolonial methodologies) of how queer and trans BIPOC generate and share knowledge about their sexual health on Twitter with regards to HIV/AIDS. After creating a self-populating Twitter archive and conducting a two-round coding schema on about 15,000 tweets (as of June 2020), I focused on a data subset comprising 300 discrete users and appropriate media (i.e., news articles, public health advertisements, other relevant media) and created three case studies focusing on: the rollout of HIV prevention advertisements within queer-centered media; the patent breaking of Truvada, a once-daily medication for preventing HIV; and the use of social media to take to task bad actors and misinformed healthcare providers. My results revealed three rhetorical strategies such communities use: 1) continuing community-born public health practices created during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 90s by deploying descriptive hashtags to challenge stigma regarding HIV/AIDS serostatus; 2) creating emergent whisper networks for sharing information about dealing with healthcare providers, navigating insurance networks, and communicating the symptoms of taking the medication; and 3) recognizing and countering the complex systems of late capitalist biomedicalization that prioritize profit over life.
Although scholars in rhetoric, health communication, and literacy studies have examined health literacies on different platforms (i.e., public fora and medical websites), few have approached this work with a non-deficit focus on social media settings with attention to queer and trans BIPOC, who typically have their knowledges discounted by providers and public health officials because of racism and the legacies of colonial medical practices. As a corrective, I developed an HIV/AIDS health literacy framework through my results that allows for outreach in non-clinical settings through what I term relational design, or a community-based participatory communication design process that incorporates community voices via an attunement to social media such as Twitter. My immediate research agenda follows up on these results, and you can read more about them below.
Journal Article Draft: Communication Design Quarterly
Emplacing Infrastructure: Toward a Material Inventory of Tech Colonialism
Journal Article Draft: Rhetoric of Health & Medicine
Un-Settling Epistemic Hubris: Colonial Constructions of Health in the Flexner and Lalonde Reports
Journal Article Draft: Technical Communication Quarterly
Toward Relational Design: Rethinking HIV Outreach for Queer Users of Color (Experience Report)
Invited Chapter in the Routledge Handbook of Queer Rhetoric
"Methodologies Not Yet Known: The Queer Case For Relational Research"
How might queer rhetorics be reconfigured via cultural rhetorics theory and de/anticolonial praxis as a relational literacy for conducting research? This question underpins the chapter invited for the methodology section of the Routledge Handbook of Queer Rhetoric, which I have tentatively titled "Methodologies Not Yet Known: The Queer Case for Relational Research." The title of this chapter echoes Scott Morgensen's reimagining of queer identity politics (or the lack thereof) as tied to the relational solidarity required of coalition building, or what Adela Licona and Karma Chávez call relational literacies.
In this chapter, I briefly outline the connections between queer and cultural rhetorics, centering practice as a means by which we might be consider queer rhetorics as a theory of relational being and doing in the world. I link the notion of doing queer rhetorics to de/anticolonial theory and praxis, expanding on Morgensen’s argument that queer critiques of power must actively engage with queerness as it is shaped by settler colonialism. In so doing, I outline how queer rhetorics research can function as a relational literacy of coalition building that interrupts settler colonialism, expanding on Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s notion of activist methodologies. Through this work, I demonstrate how queerness might be reconfigured as a constellative beingness tied to land and historicity and offer an example of how I do such work. Overall, I argue in this chapter that we queer rhetoricians must attune our research on queer worldmaking to be in line with undoing the systems of settler colonialism.
Morgensen, Scott. "A Politics Not Yet Known: Imagining Relationality within Solidarity." American Quarterly, vol. 67, no. 2, 2015, pp. 309–315.
Licona, Adela and Chávez, Karma. "Relational Literacies and their Coalitional Possibilities." Peitho Journal, vol. 18, no. 1, 2015, pp. 96–107.
Gaspar de Alba, Alicia. “Introduction: Activist Scholarship and the Historical Vortex of the ‘Bad Woman.’" [Un]Framing the "Bad Woman”: Sor Juana, Malinche, Coyolxauhqui, and Other Rebels with a Cause, University of Texas Press, 2014, pp. 1–38.