About

I am a PhD candidate and instructor in the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky. Before moving to Lexington I lived in Brooklyn and attended Hunter College of the City University of New York. In NYC I was an activist on several fronts, organizing mass demonstrations and creative actions that were a part of the anti-globalization, anti-war, and immigrant rights movements. While studying at Hunter I was an intern at the Center for Migration Studies and the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. I also worked as a research assistant in the GIS lab at Baruch College and for the project Mapping the Solidarity Economy.

Education

MA Geography, Hunter College of the City University of New York 2015

Certificate in Geographic Information Science, Hunter College of the City University of New York 2015

BA Political Science, Hunter College of the City University of New York 2006

Projects

I am a feminist economic and political geographer. What motivates all of my research is a desire to engage people’s wildest dreams for a better world. As an activist scholar, I center myself in the daily work of making emancipatory openings and transforming the dominant frameworks of how we are expected to think and live.

My dissertation research is on gender and remittances (money sent home by migrants) in Oaxaca, Mexico. Remittances are the lens through which I study how capital flows and migration trajectories are transforming the everyday lives of women. The spending and investment of remittances alters women’s work and responsibilities, activities which are linked to their participation in local politics. My analysis of how women are participating in remittance management engages with literature on remittances in economic development, gendered citizenship, and feminist geography.

This project builds on my geography MA thesis, which analyzed how Mexican hometown associations in New York City engage in solidarity through ethical economic practices of collective remittance sending and community service provision in New York City. Drawing on feminist literature on diverse economies, I argued that the solidarity work of hometown associations disrupts the dominant remittance as development discourse and is an attempt by migrants to distance themselves from neoliberal remittance policies.

In addition to my dissertation, I currently have two other projects that focus on student life in the neoliberal university. The first is with Rory Barron (undergraduate student, University of Kentucky) and is on campus activism at the University of Kentucky. Stemming from our work organizing a campus-wide Teach-In against Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017, we are analyzing the oral histories of marginalized student activists. The second is with Jess Linz (PhD student, University of Kentucky) and is called “A feminist coven in the university” (see text, video). The feminist coven is both a theoretical space and a real network of rebels. As a site of competition, scarcity, imperialism, racism, and patriarchy, the university grinds especially hard on women, people of color, black, indigenous, queer, disabled, and otherwise marginalized scholars. Out of a desire not just to get by or get ahead in this hostile space, we write about a feminist praxis that subverts the academy.

Araby Smyth

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