Research

I study and write about the relationships between “silence” and oppression in health and healthcare, while also researching accessibility, education, and the relationships between all of these. My research areas include: Applied ethics (especially bioethics), feminist philosophy, philosophy of disability and disability studies, philosophy of medicine, social epistemology.

Note: The summary below is written to be more accessible to a broader audience, because my research impacts and is impacted by a broad audience. Are you looking for a more concise or academic summary of my research? Please email me for a CV or dissertation abstract draft.

My main research: Silence in health and healthcare

In academic shorthand, I will sometimes say that I research “social moral epistemologies of health”. This isn’t helpful for most people though, so you can say a little more mysteriously that I research “silence in health and healthcare”, or generally that I research philosophy, medical ethics, or health humanities. Many of the conference presentations I list later on this page are talks about “silence” and healthcare, but this won’t always be obvious from the language I use, because I often choose to use the language that other people are already using in their conversations. 

In everyday language, I study and research issues where topics of knowledge and health overlap. My main interests around knowledge and health are about which kinds of knowledge are valued or “listened to,” and what the consequences are when certain kinds of knowledge aren’t valued, aren’t listened to, or are otherwise “silenced.” I believe this is especially important in healthcare, because sometimes the consequences mean that some people don’t get the care they need, or even die preventable deaths. My hope is that studying the different ways we can fail to listen and exploring the different kinds of silences that exist can help us to access and provide better health care, and to build toward more desirable futures.

Maybe you or someone you know has visited a hospital and felt that what you said wasn’t listened to, that you weren’t taken seriously, and that you were sent home without getting the care you need because of a misunderstanding. That’s an everyday example of the kinds of things I research: what would have helped avoid those misunderstandings or to help us be heard in the right kinds of ways? But sometimes people can’t even get into a hospital in the first place. Those people aren’t listened to either. And when we think about medical research and teaching, not just delivering health care, we might wonder why certain groups of people aren’t represented in how we research or teach or talk about medicine and health.

Often when we look closer at these kinds of questions, we find that they are very closely connected to histories of oppression, or that these issues impact certain social groups more than others. I focus most on people who are disabled, queer, or transgender, since these are groups and communities I belong to. But there is a lot of overlap between these two groups, and between each of these two groups and other groups of people as well. These are all some of the things that I am researching. 

Currently, I research in the Department of Philosophy and the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto, where I am a PhD Candidate and Vanier Scholar. The University of Toronto is located on land that traditionally belongs to Indigenous peoples, including the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. I think it is important to name these people and places when we talk about research, not only to get settler colonials like me to reflect on the ongoing history and legacy of colonialism, and to reflect on the privileges we’re afforded, but also to try to resist the “silences” around Indigenous presences and issues in healthcare. Often, conversations with and about Indigenous peoples are absent from research, and other times, our research profits from the using ideas and histories of Indigenous peoples without credit, and all too regularly we ignore the ways that violence to the land and the environment have influenced all of these. For example, a lot of my research of silence talks about what some people call “narrative ethics” and “narrative medicine”, and the general importance of stories for health. But with only very few exceptions, most of these hundreds of articles and conversations don’t mention or try to learn from the rich narrative practices of the Indigenous peoples local to where they research and learn.


Recent Workshops & Presentations

Under construction. I remain available for workshops on accessible teaching during COVID-19; contact me for more information.