My research interests focus on material culture, financial practices and development in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Instituto de Ciências Sociais at the Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal. I’m fluent in English and Spanish, and conversationally competent in Portuguese, French and Haitian Creole.
I did my PhD at Sydney University under the supervision of Professor Diane Austin-Broos. My thesis, Abajo el Puente: Place and the Politics of Progress in Santo Domingo (2009), examined how squatter settlements use their material environment to cope with their poverty and build futures. In late 2013 a more developed version of my doctoral work will be published by Altamira as a book called “Materializing Poverty: How the Poor Survive.”
I lectured full-time in the Department of Anthropology at The University of Sydney, Australia from January 2008-December 2010, teaching across the Global Studies degree, Anthropology Honours, Reading Ethnography, Economic Anthropology, Urban Anthropology, and Introductory Anthropology.
My edited book, Fieldwork Identities in the Caribbean (2010, Caribbean Studies Press), addresses how identity affects research in the contemporary world, where field sites are no longer static. Each chapter describes how the author negotiated aspects of identity in the field, including race, nationality, class, gender, religion, and sexuality. The authors are all early-career researchers who have conducted fieldwork in different Caribbean nations, including the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Belize.
From 2010-2012 I worked with with Dr. Heather Horst and Dr. Espelencia Baptiste on a project called Mobiles, Migrants and Money: A Study of Mobil in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, funded by the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) at the University of California, Irvine. In Phase I (June-November 2010) we researched formal and informal remittance routes in Haiti, publishing a report called Haitian Monetary Ecologies: A Qualitative Snapshot of Money Transfer and Savings.
In Phase II (December to April 2011) Dr. Batptise and I were on fieldwork in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, investigating the development of mobile banking services. While in the field we wrote a regular blog about our work on the IMTFI website. Our report, Mobile Money in Haiti: Potentials and Challenges, presents six key insights we gained from our research.
In Phase III (January-May 2012) I worked with Dr. Horst and Gawain Lynch on the Dominican-Haitian border. Our research in Pedernales and Anse-à-Pitres examines the role of materiality and mobility in the persistence of social stratification along national lines, despite a long history of trade and socialization between border towns. In particular, we are interested in how the values and meanings of objects and bodies change as they move through different physical and social spaces. One of our foci was on how mobile phones and money transfers are impacting upon movement and trade of Haitians on the Dominican Republic. During this phase we also collected mobile money-related objects for a display on Haiti in the British Museum‘s newly-renovated Citi Money Gallery.