I am Assistant Professor at the University of Florida, with a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law and the Center for Latin American Studies. My research and teaching focus on inequality, policing, violence, and politics in Latin America. I am also passionate about qualitative inquiry and ethnography, and served as Managing Editor of Qualitative Sociology between 2010 and 2019. Click here for my CV.
My first book, Harassed: Gender, Bodies, and Ethnographic Research (University of California Press, 2019), is co-authored with Patricia Richards. Harassed examines the androcentric, racist, and colonialist epistemological foundations of ethnographic methodology that contribute to silence surrounding sexual harassment and other forms of violence researchers encounter in the field. Check out the New Books Network Podcast episode where we talk about Harassed here.
My second book manuscript, Police in the Revolution: Chaos, Conflict, and State Violence in Venezuela, uses seven years of ethnographic, interview, survey, and archival research to document three overlapping periods—the creation of police reform (2006 – 2008), its implementation (2009 – 2014), and remilitarization (post-2015)—in the country. I argue that in order to account for police violence, and increasing insecurity in the country more generally, we must turn attention to the chaos produced within the state taken over and remade by revolutionaries. As actors struggled over the long term to define the aims of the Chavista political project, cobble together solutions to opposition, and control state resources they produced contradictory and incoherent policies to social problems. This incoherence destabilized state institutions and generated chaos and conflict from the top down as lower-level state actors (such as police officers) had to navigate a constantly shifting policy landscape.
Along with David Smilde and Verónica Zubillaga, I am co-editing The Paradox of Violence in Venezuela. Using empirical case studies, we analyze why violence increased in the country at the same time that poverty and inequality decreased under Hugo Chávez.
My research has been published in Sociological Forum; The Sociological Quarterly; Journal of Latin American Studies; Crime, Law, and Social Change; and REVISTA M. Estudos sobre a Morte, os Mortos e o Morrer.
I am an active contributor to popular conversations on policing, politics, and security reform in Latin America, publishing in venues such as NACLA, The Conversation, Insight Crime, the Christian Science Monitor, and Foreign Policy in Focus. I am also a frequent contributor to the Washington Office on Latin America's blog Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights.
Currently I am collaborating on two research projects. Along with Eric Arias (College of William and Mary), Dorothy Kronick (University of Pennsylvania) and Tara Slough (NYU) I am conducting a field experiment in Medellín, Colombia on community meetings and trust in the police. My second project is in collaboration with Dr. Leonard Gómez Núñez (Universidad Nacional Experimental de la Seguridad) and uses interviews and survey data in urban and rural sectors in Venezuela to analyze the effects of militarization on police officers. These projects have been supported by institutions such as CAF, EGAP, and EDI.