My research falls within three interconnected, yet distinct, projects.

Cosmetic Surgery, Photography and Skin

Settler Fantasies and Colonial ‘Before and After’ Photography

Creative Feminist Pedagogy

The first project examines the importance of photographic and dermal surfaces for the practice of cosmetic surgery. This research has been published and presented nationally and internationally, most significantly in my sole-authored book manuscript Surface Imaginations: Cosmetic Surgery, Photography and Skin (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015), and in my co-edited book (with Sheila L. Cavanagh and Angela Failler), Skin, Culture and Psychoanalysis, published by Palgrave in 2013.  Related to this work, I am a principal coordinator of (sk)interlocutors: An International Skin Research Group. My second research project queries the role of photography in the settlement of North America as a means to visually depict a fantasized 'before' and 'after' settler contact, and this research will ultimately result in a book manuscript provisionally titled Settler Fantasies and Colonial 'Before and After' Photography. This research has been presented nationally and internationally.  In 2011, I was supported by the Jackson Brothers Fellowship at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library  at Yale University to pursue this research. The third research project is an ongoing, lifelong engagement with the intersections of feminist pedagogy, decolonization, and creative expression. This research has been published in Feminist Teacher, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, and ADA: A Journal of Gender, New Media, & Technology, and presented nationally. 

Psychoanalytic theories and decolonial thought frame the methodological and epistemological frameworks through which I articulate my research questions, and I am engaged in ongoing professional development in these fields.  Since 2010, I have participated in the Yearly Training Seminar in Lacanian Psychoanalysis, taught in Québec City by the founders of the Groupe interdisciplinaire freudien de recherche et d'intervention clinique et culturelle, Willy Apollon, Danielle Bergeron and Lucie Cantin.  In June 2015, I completed the six year training seminar.  In July 2012, I participated in the Decolonizing Knowledge and Power international summer school, organized by DIÀLEG GLOBAL (Center of Study and Investigation for Global Dialogues) in Barcelona, Spain. 

I am the founder of the Hive for Feminist Research at StFX, a group that meets monthly to share and discuss interdisciplinary feminist research in the Faculties of Arts, Business, Education, and Science, the Coady International Institute, Service Learning, and the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health.  The initial call for members can be read here, and a year-end report on the activities of the Hive in its first year (2013-2014) can be read here.  In the second year of the Hive (2014-2015), I established the Virtual Hive for Feminist Research, and spearheaded an initiative to launch an annual lecture series.

Finally, I have organized an annual writing retreat during reading week at StFX since 2013, inspired by an article I read in University Affairs based on Barbara Grant’s work.  In 2015, my colleague Wojciech Tokarz organized the retreat, and we began to work together to institutionalize this initiative; since joining forces, we have organized two retreats in 2015 that were supported by the AVP-Research.  These retreats are an important venue for researchers to share their research frustrations and celebrate victories in addition to the powerful embodied experience of writing in each others’ presence.    

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Related news

“Annual StFX Writing Retreat provides professional development, collegial space for scholarship.”  StFX News, February 27, 2015.

“Faculty Profile: Dr. Rachel Hurst - Opening Learning Opportunities.” StFX Alumni News, Summer 2014, p. 15. 

“Building a Hive for Feminist Research.”  StFX News, April 8, 2014.