About Me

Hi, this is Sara. I use she/her pronouns. I am a US-Ireland dual citizen raised in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Virginia (Piscataway and Pamunkey lands). In this section, you will find my evolving effort to craft a positionality statement.

Growing up in the D.C. area, I witnessed a great deal of racialized inequality and poverty. The capital of the richest country in the world has some of the highest rates of incarceration, housing precarity, and maternal health risks out of any city on the planet. As a teenager, I also participated in the protest movement against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Despite these experiences, it took me a long time to wrap my head around the many daily and lifelong privileges that come with being an able-bodied, cisgender white woman.

Having a child with disabilities made my theoretical dedication to just transformation of our society much more urgent, personal, and central to everything I undertake in my life. As I got more involved in community organizing at the local level, I was introduced to the concept of internationalism: the belief that “…such a transformation must connect, in everyday politics, social democracy to anti-imperialism — seeing each as impossible without the support of the other” (Aziz Rana). I credit the Oregon chapter of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party with educating so many of us students on how essential it is to center Africa in our internationalist analysis and organizing. I am also grateful to the Palestine solidarity movement (especially Students for Justice in Palestine), frontlines Indigenous land defenders, and the Protactile DeafBlind community for all of the political education they provided me.

I am now a PhD candidate in the African Studies department at Howard University. My dissertation research is about the ongoing war in Yemen, and how the war is affecting migrant and refugee communities in Ethiopia. As some may know from recent efforts in Congress to end US direct military engagement in Yemen, our tax dollars have been subsidizing the Saudi siege and bombardment of Yemen for nearly five years. While many might pigeonhole this conflict as a “Middle East” issue, the reality is that the US-Saudi war economy has a great impact on the Horn of Africa. As a researcher, my goal is to document and describe these impacts, as well as uplift the grassroots internationalist connections between the most impacted people who are calling for an end to the war and for freedom of movement in a world increasingly restricted by borders and bureaucracy.

As a white American academic conducting research in a geographic region where I don’t have family or recent ancestors, I know it is important for me to constantly cross-examine and deepen my personal stake in the research. First, I believe that US citizens have a responsibility to investigate the actions of our government. Furthermore, war has a significant relationship with the dearth of disability services for children like my daughter here in the United States and around the world. This is not just a matter of budget but also ideology. Militarism and ableism spring from the same toxic worldview. One cannot be challenged without dismantling the other.

Thank you for reading, and your feedback is welcome.