I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. My research examines the social, structural, and psychological factors that shape why people engage in politics—and relatedly, how Americans’ race shapes their political lives.
My book, The Obligation Mosaic, studies participatory social norms across racial communities in the United States. My current agenda examines whether racial justice movements influence children’s political socialization and how Americans use childrearing to enact their political goals. Other scholarship explores participatory spillover from felony disenfranchisement, racial divisions in carceral state attitudes, and the construction of race through contextual factors and discussion of disease. My published work appears in American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Perspectives on Politics, and with University of Chicago Press.
I am a current member of Vanderbilt’s RIPS Lab. Before graduate school, I was the Ameri*Corps VISTA for Community Engagement and Scholarship in William & Mary’s Office of Community Engagement. I have taught courses on American democracy at both prisons and rehabilitation centers as well as at Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, and the College of William & Mary. I graduated with honors from William & Mary in 2009 with a double major in American Studies and Government, and in 2016 from Stanford University with a PhD in Political Science.
Recent book: Buy it now on Amazon.
Many argue that “civic duty” explains why Americans engage in politics, but what does civic duty mean, and does it mean the same thing across communities? Drawing on interviews, surveys, and experiments with Asian, Black, Latino, and White Americans, I show the obligations that bring people into the political world—or encourage them to stay away—vary systematically by race. In the United States, two norms centrally define these obligations: honoring ancestors and helping those in need. Whether these norms lead different groups to politics depends on distinct racial histories and continued patterns of segregation. These findings have broad implications for political representation in America and reveal opportunities for change, suggesting how activists and parties can better mobilize marginalized citizens.