Below are my current and former research projects. Broadly speaking, my research interests are in twentieth century American history, community activism, social justice movements, US citizenship, the history of veterans, radical history, and urban history.
Super Citizenship: American Veterans and the Fight for Human Rights (2018-22)
This post-doctoral project will produce the first comprehensive history of veteran activism and protest in the U.S. Whenever soldiers have returned home from a conflict, they have attempted to re-integrate into civilian life in the U.S. However, veterans throughout US conflicts have emerged to claim, complicate, or contest American citizenship by engaging in protests or activist causes—often opposing the very government that enlisted them. Soldiers are trained to serve and protect but what do veterans do with this sense of duty after war? Whether it is segregation, land ownership, or LGBT rights, ex-soldiers have historically been present to lend their status as veterans to support numerous human rights issues. This project contends that U.S. veterans have played a major role in shaping American society since World War I, despite a significant lack of scholarly attention to the history of veterans. In exploring the intersections of citizenship, activism, and veterans, this project will provide a radically new perspective on the limits and opportunities of U.S. citizenship and the involvement of veterans in social movements.
Loisaida as Urban Laboratory: Puerto Rican Community Activism in New York (2014-18)
This PhD project offers the first in-depth analysis of the network of Puerto Rican community activism in the Lower East Side from 1964 to 2001. The community of Loisaida organized itself to fight against postwar urban deindustrialization, housing disinvestment, and gentrification, which threatened to displace an entire generation of Puerto Ricans who migrated to this New York neighborhood and tried to make it their home. Using an amalgam of unprocessed organizational archives, oral histories, ephemera, and neighborhood publications, this project recreates the history of community action in Loisaida. Focusing on key institutions and community groups that mobilized residents and built a lasting activist network, it demonstrates how community groups pioneered a methodology for more sustainable community activism. These activists turned Loisaida into their laboratory, constantly experimenting with and adapting new strategies to put up a solid defense against absentee landlords, greedy developers, opportunist politicians, and an era of increased policing of urban space. Analyzing the interplay of community activism, urban politics, and Puerto Rican history in this urban laboratory of Loisaida provides three crucial insights: (1) the necessity for grassroots organizations to adapt their activism to the changing needs of the community, (2) the creativity of urban communities to transform and design their immediate environment, and (3) the root causes that keep activist campaigns from reaching their full potential.