My research and resulting publications are all connected by the interrelated themes of conservative politics, social/political movements, and law in America–a focus that emerged over time. While each section’s introduction includes details not provided here, I want to take a brief moment to provide an overview of my academic work and its origins.
When I first started researching abortion-related court cases, I was motivated by an interest in both free speech and political movements. Restated, abortion politics was the setting within which I could investigate these other interests, as opposed to being the focus of my work. My early articles looked at how differently situated activists mobilized law and how they addressed — if at all — the inconsistencies in their case-specific and general views of free speech and legal regulation.
The peer review and editing process of my 2011 article, “Sustaining the State,” however, allowed me to re-frame my research in a more theoretically satisfying manner captured in both that article and my first book, The Street Politics of Abortion. In brief, I moved from focusing on the internal dilemmas that activists could experience, to highlighting what their stories stood to tell us about law as a broad-based resource for movements. This also enabled me to think more about these movement actors specifically, accelerating the process of my finding a real interest in conservative movement politics, and more specifically, Christian conservative movement politics.
Researching and writing on abortion introduced me to the emergent conservative Christian legal movement. The lawyers that I interviewed represented both the old and the new in the American Christian Right. That is, they represented the periods both before and after the Christian Right came to realize the value of, and need for, lawyers. In looking at their professional profiles, at the institutions that they formerly and presently belonged to, and the stories of those institutions, I came to see that they collectively stood as living evidence of the Christian Right’s increasing political capacity. In doing so, I recognized that this was an important and under-explored part of understanding contemporary American politics — both within and beyond the abortion conflict’s context. My second book, The New States of Abortion Politics, thus best represents both my interests in abortion politics specifically, and this political conflict’s centrality to the development of the Christian Right’s legal resources.
The emergent Christian conservative legal movement’s efforts to specifically develop legal resources is also the subject of my most recent articles & book, which are collectively the product of a longer collaboration with Prof. Amanda Hollis-Brusky (Pomona College) and funding from the National Science Foundation.
Prof. Hollis-Brusky & I have also co-authored op-eds related to our research. I mention this in part to tie in the last section of this research portfolio – my public media writing. These publications provide an ongoing way for me to both attempt to contribute to larger, contemporary political discussions, as well as to continue to see my research as relevant and coherent.
Finally, in looking ahead, my emergent next (possible book) project pivots from my focusing on Christian conservatives to the political history of modern conservatism. The specific focus here is on the place of cultivating an American European ethnic identity in the 1970s and ’80s as part of a strategy to peal these populations away from the Democratic coalition and to create a counter narrative to the Civil Rights movement. One stream in this project has to do with including Italian Americans in affirmative action programs. A second has to do with funding for European ethnic celebrations and organizations. The third stream addresses city planning in the form of designated historic European ethnic neighborhoods. As with my other work, as I have developed this research interest I have started to apply it to contemporary politics in short media pieces that can be found on this website.