In my research, I look at health not as a something that we possess as an individual but as a condition that is produced through relationships with ecosystems and nonhuman lifeforms, such as plants and bacteria. As a critical qualitative health researcher, I also consider the larger social-political context for these relationships and the ways in which social forces like colonialism shape outcomes for different people. I am currently researching the impact of COVID-19 on food supply chains in Toronto while also digging into the human microbiome and considering what recent research in this area means for food systems. In this work, I draw on posthumanist theory, an area of social theory that takes as its starting point the idea that humans are just one of many species on planet earth. This stands in contrast to Euro-Western points of view that see ‘Man’ (from Wynter (2006) “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation–An Argument”; also see Val Plumwood’s 1993 book, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature) as an exceptional species and superior to animals and other lifeforms. I draw on posthumanist theory to analyze human-plant relations.
I also research city food systems. I am a collaborator with the Feeding the City research group, led by my research partner Dr. Jayeeta Sharma of the University of Toronto Scarborough. Together we are teaming up with community partners to understand the impact of the pandemic on food systems in Toronto and the grassroots efforts that have come together in response to COVID-19 with the goal of bringing food system resilience to different communities and neighbourhoods. My other research projects include a community-engaged research study with Dr. Daniel Bender (University of Toronto Scarborough) and Vanessa Ling Yu of the non-profit, caterToronto. We are looking at the role that small, food entrepreneurs who are often newcomers to Canada, play in the city’s foodscape.