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, and social epistemology. I have other teaching and research competence in Chinese philosophy, ethics (broadly construed), epistemology, health studies, and philosophy of science.
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 that uses academic phrases like “epistemic oppression”? Please email me for a CV or dissertation abstract draft.
My main research: Silence in health and healthcare
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. (And maybe that “misunderstanding” was something more like outright prejudice or discrimination based on your appearance or identity). That’s an everyday example of the kinds of things I research: what would have helped avoid those ways of silencing, or to help us be heard in the right kinds of ways? Sometimes people can’t even get into a hospital in the first place due to public policies, economic disparities, citizen status, or other access barriers. Those people aren’t listened to either. And when we think about medical research and teaching, not just the delivery of 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 groups, and between each of these groups and other groups of people as well. These are all some of the things that I am researching for my dissertation
That’s what I research, and it is also important to consider where I research. I conduct my research through 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 belongs to and is protected by many Indigenous peoples, including the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River. The land is subject to many important treaties and promises, including the One Dish One Spoon or Dish With One Spoon wampum belt.
I think it is important to name these peoples, promises, 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 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. 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”, that is, theories that talk about 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.