I think overall I’m opposed to the idea of the bio. It can’t ever possibly paint a full picture of one’s life, and it is hard, if not downright impossible to avoid what one friend aptly called the “becoming-CV of the human” when writing a bio. But I’m willing to share a different sort of bio, one that offers a brief snapshot of what drove me to my intellectual commitments instead of the standard list of accomplishments.
I was born outside Portland, Oregon and grew up there and elsewhere along the west coast. My roots are working class and I am from a family which split up multiple times. Most of my life was with a single mother and an estranged father although much later in my late 20s I reconciled with him. Starting in my early teens I worked different jobs from being a hod carrier (assistant to a bricklayer), a construction laborer, to a number of sales and other odd jobs.
I went to college in a small town in Southern Oregon on a Pell Grant and some student loans. Although I mainly read philosophy now, it was through reading poetry that the world of thought first really opened up for me.
The first major philosopher for me, long before Marx, was Nietzsche. In Nietzsche’s work I found a whole reservoir of direction and inspiration. Although over time I would grow to understand Nietzscheanism much differently.
After college, the second Iraq War was raging and I felt anxious and outraged by it. So I made it to Washington, DC, in part aimlessly drifting because I had no compelling work: I was still working construction even after my undergraduate degree and I had no professional prospects. So I stumbled upon, completely by chance (a whole other story!) a community of activists in the DC area that were organizing religious groups to protest the Iraq War and to promote inter-religious relations. I didn’t see it at the time but this was my chance to enter the professional world. But in order to do so my partner and I lived in the patronage of a wealthy businessman in Washington, DC who was interested in interfaith issues. Indeed, without this Algeristic support I’d likely be back in Portland working construction labor.
To my surprise, my entry into this world sparked class consciousness in quite palpable ways than I had ever felt it before. I began to realize that my labor situation in the world relied on receiving the financial support from paternalistic sources (completely outside of my family mind you) which had no reason to support me. We live in a society where if you are a working class person who does not have parents with money, that means there is usually only an outside chance that you will escape your social and economic conditions. This situation is not really allowed to be spoken of, is it.
So it was at this point that my politics turned to socialism and I began to become critical of progressive liberalism. Philosophy and psychoanalysis, discourses which I had always found an interest in as an intellectual set of teachings, now became a source for thinking critically about class politics in my life and in the wider society. By the time the liberal messianic moment of Obama’s hope and change began to come about, I began to turn against liberalism entirely.
But this event launched me into an entirely new educational trajectory. At this point, I have taught philosophy at George Washington University as Professorial Lecturer and at Marymount University where I teach social and political thought, ethics and introduction to philosophy. I also offered a seminar to inmates at the DC jail. During and following the COVID-19 pandemic, I have launched Study Groups on Psychoanalysis and Politics which has taken my education, lecturing and interviews with scholars and thinkers to a more public level.
My first book is entitled Psychoanalysis and the Politics of the Family and it came out in February 2022.
I received my Ph.D. from the European Graduate School, division of Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought under the supervision of one of the most important living philosophers, Alain Badiou. I also received a Masters of Arts in philosophy and ethics from American University in Washington, DC where I wrote my thesis on Žižek’s critique of liberalism.
This work won first place in 2012 and 2014 at the Žižek Studies conference. I then went on to study directly with Žižek and Badiou at the EGS in order to develop my ideas.
I am also affiliated as a Scholar with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, D.C. where I write and present on Islamophobia, Muslims in the west and interfaith dialogue. I have produced several films with a company called Unity Productions Foundation where I work as a producer.