My dissertation, titled "Simple Medicines: Land, Health, and Power in the 19th-century Ojibwe western Great Lakes," focused on medical pluralism in settler colonialism in Ojibwe communities in the western Great Lakes during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I used the frameworks of Indigenous and settler colonial studies and brought in analyses of religion, science, institutions, and strategic survivance. Simple Medicines addressed major themes in the history of medicine including the mutability of Indigenous and settler medical practices; the mobilization of medicine in both processes of and resistances to settler colonialism; and the functional reality of medical pluralism. I did this project because, as a white settler scholar, I needed to better understand medicine and relationship in the place where I was living. What I found was more complex and more clear than I could have anticipated.
My current research looks at human-nature relations through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly in the development of herbalism. My central questions are always what health meant and what medicine - especially botanical medicine - did in religious, political, and social spaces. I'm curious about herbalism as a practice, identity, and expression of sacred and social relations. This project is grounded in queer, feminist, multispecies, and Indigenous theories of relationship, kinship, continuity, and care.
This research is closely associated with the Herbal History Project, the current phase of a long-standing community-academic partnership on plants, health, and history. This inquiry has taken multiple forms: a series of guided visits between community members, academics, rare book librarians, and the University’s Educator of Indigenous History, Biological, and Ecological knowledge; multiple public presentations; a year-long research collaborative for which my co-conveners and I received a competitive grant from the University’s Institute of Advanced Study. We currently are running a storytelling, storylistening, and study group funded in part by the Institute on the Environment.