Nick Kearns

Nick Kearns's picture
B.A. (Summa Cum Laude), Amherst College, 2015

My primary research topic is heroin trafficking in New England. Between the summers of 2013 and 2017 I observed a network of Brooklyn-based heroin traffickers as they operated in a rural small town. More recently I have been writing about the observations from my fieldwork, describing the trafficking route that has emerged along Interstate 91 in New England. I have been focusing on the extension of the urban drug market into rural areas, the processes by which the traffickers network with local users, and the politics of ridesharing that have emerged as the traffickers have operated.

I have also been working on an autobiography project with a high-ranking member of the Latin Kings gang in Lawrence (MA). Although he began this project in federal prison in North Carolina, it was confiscated there before he could complete it, so we have been working together since 2016 to recreate his writing in Roxbury, Boston (MA). Since this man was also a drug trafficker in New England, this project is related to my previous research. In both projects I am attempting to write about these traffickers in a way that creates more compassion for their experiences. Most often they are not trafficking to make lucrative profits, but instead because they have no other way to support their families.

In the future I hope to do ethnography in globalized cities and cities that are known for being cosmopolitan. I hope to study how people from different cultures interact in these cities, and how their interactions are facilitated by particular public spaces. By interviewing local architects, business owners, and urban planners, I hope to learn more about how these spaces are designed. More specifically I hope to learn more about how the features of their designs have facilitated interactions between people from different cultures.