my research centers People of Color’s ancestral + contemporary usage of plant medicine.
how are the descendants of colonized people engaging with herbalism as a way to radically reclaim bodily autonomy, create communities around a shared interest in ancestral history, and resist colonial narratives of health and worthiness?
‘plant medicine + decolonization’ is an ongoing research project, based in washington d.c.
for participation inquiries or research materials, please fill out the form at the bottom of this page.
I have also practiced natural magic my entire life, and until recently never considered the ancestral, cultural and anti-colonial significance of my practices. my tendency to talk to plants as a little girl followed me into adulthood, when I realized plants could be more than friends – they could be medicine.
beginning in february 2019, I began a series of semi-structured interviews and participant observations in D.C and Maryland; I reached out to several People of Color involved in herbalism, which yielded a diverse selection of informants. my research follows apothecary owners and employees, online herbal school directors, independent practitioners and cannabis business owners.
I’m especially curious about the growing interest, commodification, and accessibility of plant medicine. why is it more acceptable now to cleanse our homes with burning sage, or consume CBD products to treat our physical pain? and more specifically, how are People of Color using herbalism to explore their ancestry, create relationships around a shared love for healing, and affirm autonomy over their own bodies?
what can studying contemporary forms of plant medicine among People of Color reveal about resistance to colonial narratives?
this is an ongoing research initiative. its engagement with ancestral trauma and generational knowledge creates an infinite process, meaning it will truly never be complete.
I am always open to further investigating these threads of decolonization, empowerment and remembrance, as well as providing comprehensive sources and material for others to engage in this discussion alongside me.
to download my research findings, background literature citations and presentation transcripts, please click here.
if you would like to request additional research materials (outside of the materials mentioned above) or participate in this research, let’s talk! please fill out the form to the right so that we may continue this conversation.
I would like to posit that if you are a non-PoC requesting extensive research materials, resources, findings or personal questions, we will need to discuss financial (or other forms of) compensation for my time and energy. questions like “what are some of your favorite herbal remedies,” or “how can I educate myself more about decolonization” will be answered after compensation terms are agreed on by myself and the requester.
these findings are meant to empower colonized people by representing them in academia. they were not intended to be teaching tools for white-identifying individuals. I am be more than happy to share my findings with people of all ethnic backgrounds, however, part of decolonizing my practice and empowering myself necessitates that I place value on my work and be compensated in some way that will offer me sustenance.
thank you for your interest and support; it truly fuels this project and reminds me that this research would be incomplete without community engagement.
apothecaries offer insight into perspectives of health and autonomy for People of Color. the act of purchasing medicine from an apothecary has significant medical implications. it reflects a sense of autonomy and allows People of Color to heal themselves in ways that feel intuitively resonant, rather than solely relying on medical professionals to diagnose them.
how do apothecaries function as alternative healthcare providers, as well as sites for the transfer of generational, cultural knowledge?