Current Research Areas: anthropology of biology and medicine; feminist science studies; cannabis; drugs and society; plant-human relations; matter and materiality; naturecultures; capitalisms and value; affective ecologies; sciences of the mind and brain; race, gender, and science
Drawing on the history and anthropology of medicine, food, and agriculture, Alex’s ethnographic research investigates the ongoing processes of cannabis legalization in the United States and Canada. His dissertation analyzes the scientization of the plant and its substances, alongside a close attention to its horticultural production as its diverse and historically oppressed farming cultures are upended and reorganized in response to post-prohibition and liberal marketization. His fieldwork spans across a variety of settings to follow the multiple social lives of cannabis as it moves from farms to scientific laboratories to consumers and patients, with critical attention on how the logics of global prohibition and its racist and classist political-economic underpinnings both inform and are challenged by legalization in its current patchwork landscape. Alex aims to highlight emerging emancipatory ideas and practices that point towards more equitable and sustainable medicinal and agricultural economies with broader implications for the nature of racial capitalism and industrialized farming in North America. He does so by focusing on how notions of sustainability and equity are integrated into emerging legal frameworks and with what actual consequences for farmers, businesses, and users. Geographically, Alex is conducting fieldwork in Northern California, Southern Ontario, Canada, and the North-East, USA. This research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability at MIT.
Alex holds a BA in Anthropology from McMaster University and an MA in Social Anthropology from York University, Toronto. Alongside his degree studies he has worked as a health science researcher for McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine, the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, and the Program for Educational Research and Development. At York University he worked with colleagues on the interdisciplinary team Re-Imagining Long-Term Residential Care, taking a critical approach to documenting and analyzing the current state of end-of-life care in nursing homes across six countries. Previous interests and projects include the relation between affect and expertise in the context of medical education, the phenomenology of illness, end-of-life medical practice, and the history of infectious disease in Canada. Alex’s research interests are threaded together by the question of how and in what ways notions of environment and health are co-created and change over time.
2021. “Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice: A Survey of Cannabis Business Practices in North-East USA and Canada.”
2020. “How Do Physicians and Nurses in Family Practice Describe Their Care for Patients with Progressive Life-limiting Illness? A Qualitative Study of a ‘Palliative Approach’.”
2016. “Intensifying Relational Care: The Challenge of Dying in Long-Term Residential Care.”
2016. “Diet Modification Challenges Faced by Marginalized and Nonmarginalized Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Meta-synthesis.”
2015. “The First Wave of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Among Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.”