I’m a doctoral candidate in Sociology with an M.A. and M.Phil. from Yale and a BA from Loyola New Orleans. I expect to complete my dissertation in 2013. Before graduate school, I lived in New York City for four years, where I worked as a caseworker in the South Bronx and as a high-school teacher in downtown Brooklyn.
Research interests: I basically wear four sociological hats:
(1) The sociology of religion, especially Sunni Islam, Evangelical Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism. I am interested in secularism studies, religion and politics, and debates about tradition and democracy in a postcolonial context.
(2) the sociology of education. I look at how schools form moral subjects and the language of justification used about and within this formation. I work within a tradition of qualitative, organizational studies of schooling, and one of my ongoing goals is to help bring back a sociological focus on education at the level of the school rather than the level of the student.
(3) science and technology studies. Unlike other sociologists in STS, I am more interested in how science and technology work in real life than in “laboratory life”. I’m particularly interested in the relationships between science and religion and between technology and morality, both of which are dichotomies I’d like to challenge in my work.
(4) sociological theory and methodology. I’m with Durkheim that sociology is just a way to work out if philosophy works. And for this, one needs method.
All of these interests intersect in my dissertation, which is a four-part comparative ethnography of Christian and Muslim high schools in the New York City area. I’m looking at how science and technology interact with religious life, and I’m using surveys, interviews, and participant-observation in each of these four schools to answer four questions: (1) How do these communities explain the relationship and occasional disconnect between scripture and science education? (2) How does prayer “work” in these communities, e.g., what is it used to accomplish, and how is that use taught and understood? (3) How does the massive amount of information and identity-exploration provided by the Internet strengthen or challenge these communities? (4) How does the use of authority by teachers, students, and staff affect what students know and do and how they are able to do it? All of these questions will help me to understand how these communities are able be “in the world but not of it”: I am fascinated by the distinctions these communities make between themselves and the world and which of these distinctions they choose to fight about.