Broadly, my research interests lie in the disciplines of folkloristics and sociocultural anthropology. Having both undergraduate and graduate training in these fields I am interested in how expressive cultural forms such as legends communicate knowledge and influence human behavior. I’m interested in belief studies, narrative, nationalism, legend, supernatural traditions, disaster, social memory, cultural trauma, and violent geographies. Geographically I am interested in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the United States.

I am also interested in the ways in which disciplinary boundaries are imagined, enacted, and propagated in sociocultural anthropology and folkloristics including the specific histories or historical narratives of these two sister disciplines. Traditionally these two fields have asked similar, as well as different, questions, approaching their objects of study using various methodologies and theorizing the social and cultural in a number of ways. Sociocultural anthropology aims to understand the relationship between culture and society in a given population in as much detail as can be obtained from ethnographic analysis. Folkloristics aims to understand how the informal aspects of culture, including tradition, impact the way in which individuals and communities live in the world, also predominately through ethnographic analysis. Now more than ever before, these two distinct disciplines have much to learn from, as well as teach, each other about how and why both individuals and groups enact and participate in particular social and cultural realities, drawing from local and global resources.

With the combination of these research interests, I use a number of methodological toolkits in order to approach the social worlds that I examine including ethnography, historical anthropology, narratology, and discourse analysis.


My doctoral research focuses on historical and contemporary ghost narratives recorded and performed throughout the island of Ireland (North and South). These stories capture and convey more than eerie and unsettling encounters with the unquiet dead. They reflect cultural concerns about daily life, life in times of conflict and crisis, and at times the playful nature of both the living and the dead. Ghosts are members of society that are simultaneously absent and present. The Irish tradition of ghost legends is storied and has been long recorded by ethnographers and laypeople alike. My research looks at the ways in which this tradition has changed over time, moving from the céilí houses to folklore archives and published collections. In my ethnographic fieldwork, I worked with storytellers—professional and amateur, paranormal researchers, and artists to explore how this tradition lives on in contemporary Irish and Northern Irish society.

Sticker on the door of a bakery in Dundalk, Ireland. The 2013 tourist celebration The Gathering Ireland rebranded Louth as the Land of Legends. This is where I was based while conducting multi-sited ethnographic and archival research in 2018–19.

Radio interview with 98.5 LMFM in Drogheda, Ireland about my doctoral research. September 11, 2018.

Conspiracy Theories & Conspiracy Thinking

Recently, my scholarly interests have expanded to include contemporary conspiracy theories in western Europe and the United States. Current trends in political and public discourses in these regions reveal that examination of not only the bodies of conspiracy theories themselves are important but also of the relationship between the theories and how they motivate individuals and groups to act. As a belief and communal narrative scholar, this is where I enter the discussion of conspiracy theories and conspiracy thinking. I am interested in how these narrative complexes are transmitted throughout a community, being shaped and reworked as it moves and how those conspiracy theories are used as inspiration for acts of political violence.

In 2021, a local news station interviewed me to discuss the growing visibility of conspiracy theories in the public sphere. You can watch the interview here:

Future Projects

As I wrap up my doctoral research, with an eye toward publishing my dissertation as my first monograph, I am beginning to think through the first stages of a couple of new research projects. The first centers on international traditions of solidarity against state oppression specifically focused on how Catholics in Northern Ireland have expressly linked their history of state violence to the histories of state violence endured by Palestinians and Black Americans. The second project focuses on official ways of remembering the Northern Ireland Troubles, a period of inter-communal conflict from 1968–1998.