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Solidarity

My research on solidarity is the topic of my postdoctoral research. I focus on building intergenerational solidarity around the oral history of HIV. I will be presenting on this research at the Canadian Philosophical Association and I have already presented on it at the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities conference in 2020.

As the urgency of the threat from HIV has declined over the decades and gay, bisexual, and queer men as well as Two-Spirit, trans, and non-binary people have become more accepted in society, solidarity around HIV has lessened within queer communities since the AIDS epidemic and many AIDS service organizations have closed. However, HIV rates and HIV stigma remain high among gay, bisexual, and queer men today, necessitating the rebuilding of solidarity within gay communities. This project aims to analyze data from the “HIV in My Day” project, an existing collaboration between academic researchers and community partners that has produced a digital archive of 117 oral history interviews conducted in British Columbia with long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS and their caregivers. Engaging past narratives of HIV alongside contemporary experiences with new medical developments in HIV treatment and prevention, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and undetectable equals untransmittable (U=U), across different generations of Two-Spirit, gay, bisexual, and queer men can help queer communities build solidarity around shared experiences. This qualitative analysis uses philosophical theories of political solidarity, especially empathetic solidarity, and related moral concepts, like trust, in order to structure this oral history into research that can be used to guide future community-based research, HIV policy, and AIDS activism.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

My research on pre-exposure prophylaxis is the topic of my dissertation. I focus on the social and political dimensions of the ethics of PrEP for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM). I have presented on this research at the American Philosophical Association conference in 2020, the Canadian Bioethics Society conference in 2019, 2018 and 2017, the Canadian Association for HIV Research conference in 2018, the Community Based Research Centre conference in 2017 and the Canadian Philosophical Association conference in 2016.

My project addresses crucial ethical dimensions of a growing practice of HIV prevention: the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by men who have sex with men (MSM). PrEP is the use of antiretroviral drugs by people who do not have HIV as a strategy for its prevention. People who take PrEP are usually people who are at very high risk for HIV and MSM are the highest risk group for HIV in North America. While PrEP has the possibility of becoming an integral part of the fight against HIV, there are still many concerns about the use of PrEP, especially by MSM. Although the medical safety and efficacy of PrEP is increasingly well supported by a growing body of medical research, it is important to consider the effects of PrEP on the wider social and political lives of MSM as well as its role within the broader context of HIV treatment, prevention, and de-stigmatization. Therefore, I will address the too-often overlooked social and political dimensions of the ethics of PrEP, arguing that these are as important as the medical dimensions.


Drawing on the risk assessment literature, the nuanced history of HIV in North America and its intersection with homophobia, biphobia and the continuing gay rights movement, and by focusing on moral concepts like risk, trust, and solidarity, I identify key norms, values, and biases that have shaped how PrEP is discussed in both academic and popular contexts. These norms, values, and biases involve the relative prioritization of physical, mental and emotional health, the structure of relationships, the moral acceptability of promiscuity and the intergenerational views of the gay community. I argue that identifying and investigating these norms, values and biases significantly strengthens the case for using PrEP as HIV prevention. Responding to arguments against PrEP and drawing on the philosophical literature of the concepts involved in the debate about PrEP enables my work to go beyond the clinic door and develop a framework for MSM and other social groups faced with controversial medical technologies.

Climate Change

My research on climate change is the topic of a secondary research project. I focus on acknowledging and challenging anthropocentrism in the ethics of climate change. I presented on this research at the Canadian Philosophical Association conference and the Canadian Society for Environmental Philosophy in 2018.

Non-Human Animal Rights

My research on non-human animal rights is the topic of another secondary research project. I focus on anthropocentrism, speciesism and the effect of the uncanny valley problem on the ethics of non-human animal rights. I presented on this research at the York University Graduate Philosophy conference in 2016.