Who am I?

18673213_10158937709140724_85139234971434854_oGeography Ph.D. student at the University of Oregon by day, cooking and running enthusiast by night. Read my Washington Post article here or check out my UW-Madison alumni profile here.

In my research, I use food as a lens for examining identity and power, especially as they relate to race, nationalism, migration, and political rhetoric. I’m interested in the intended and unintended discursive and material effects of debates about serving and eating “the right food.” These effects can include ideas about health, feelings of belonging and inclusion, mandates that certain foods are made available, the criminalization of particular foodways (such as religious slaughter and indigenous food practices), and so on.  Currently, I’m analyzing a debate in Denmark about whether to serve pork in Danish daycare centers as a means of preserving Danish culture or to serve (often vegetarian) kosher- and halal-friendly meals as a means of accommodating religious minority students. I’m also beginning to explore more extensively the marginalizing effects of vegetarian and animal rights discourses, and how the preference for continental European food culture has impacted Greenlandic foodways.

35308603081_2251248e9a_k.jpgI received my MA in May 2016 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My MA thesis, titled “Islamophobic Sentiment in the Danish Asylum Process: Denied Acceptance to Those in Need,” analyzes the ways in which a Muslim identity–perceived or actual–impacts the likelihood of being granted asylum in Denmark. The Washington Post article I published in 2017 is based on this research.

Language and cultural exchange have always been important parts of my work. I’m PK photo.jpegfluent in Danish, competent in Swedish and Norwegian, proficient in Arabic, improving my German, and have previous experience with Spanish, French, and Sierra Leonean Krio. Basic conversational skills were central to my work at Alight, leaving me with very basic conversational skills in (Ki)swahili, Kinyarwanda/Kirundi, Somali, and Urdu. I continue to translate (mostly Danish to English) and I previously worked as a High School Credit Program Facilitator and Language Instructor at the Danish language program Skovsøen, and Arabic language program Al-Waha. I continue to support programming at Skovsøen and have worked there on and off in recent years. Before that, I taught Danish at the University of Wisconsin and worked as a scholarship program facilitator for exchange students for a number of years.

Before returning to school for my doctoral program, I spent three years working at Alight (formerly the American Refugee Committee). Here, I worked primarily as a Project Manager for our Changemakers 365 program, managing small-scale, high-impact projects; I conducted ethnographic/human-DSC_5704.JPGcentered fieldwork in Rwanda and DR Congo, spent seven weeks in Uganda implementing projects within education, livelihoods, agriculture, sustainability, and sports, co-created projects with urban LGBT+ refugees in Kenya and Mexico, established agricultural programming and Yemeni entrepreneurship support in Somalia and Somaliland, helped strengthen food security amongst students in non-formal schools in Pakistan, and amplified after school programs for youth in El Salvador. In addition to this, I played many other roles; I worked in logistics and compliance, helped establish deeper relationships with academics, assisted in our WhatsApp Image 2020-04-19 at 21.09.57brand roll-out, supported proposals, and more. I’ve been uniquely fortunate to work with so many teams across so many different countries in my tenure at the organization.

Additionally, I am an avid cook, runner, traveler, and podcast enthusiast. I’ve lived in Scandinavia for over two years and have traveled extensively. When I was last living in Copenhagen, I volunteered with asylum seekers and refugees at the Trampoline House, worked on the editorial team of the visAvis magazine–a magazine that focuses on challenges presented by asylum and migration–and worked as a journalist for the University of Copenhagen’s newspaper University Post as their politics and immigration specialist.