My research agenda centers on the relationship between state power and social inequality. Specifically, it includes a series of projects that ask how race, class, gender, sexual identity, and other social disparities are created and recreated by state power, as it manifests through law and policy. My work therefore draws upon the sociologies of law, crime, politics, culture, and racial & intersectional inequality, and it speaks to issues in a number of related fields, including race & gender studies, U.S. and international law, criminology, political science, history, international studies, and public policy.
In each project I research, I investigate both (a) how states’ efforts to direct and manage citizens are grounded in existing power relations that manifest through socially constructed, elite truths, beliefs, ideologies, and values, and (b) how those kinds of state actions consequently reify and amplify cultural assumptions to ultimately reproduce status hierarchies. Because each research project focuses on that substantive question above other concerns, these projects all choose methods based on appropriateness to a particular research question and typically incorporate mixed methodologies (including comparative, historical, interview, and statistical analyses) to complementary and confirmatory evidence. For the same reason, my research on state power and social inequality also spans a number of transnational contexts and draws upon cross-disciplinary theory, including social theory, critical criminology, legal history, critical race theory, and feminist and black feminist approaches.
To learn more about my individual research projects, check out the links below. To read or learn about specific publications, either follow the links to a specific project or click on Publications in the top menu for a complete list. My CV is also available via that menu.
What punishments do arrested, convicted, and imprisoned people face beyond their formal, judge-issued sentences? For how long has the United States wielded penal laws to marginalize black, brown, gay, and other criminalized groups? What role do punishment and criminality actually play in modern society, and how do Americans experience them in their daily lives?
What is genocide, really? How is it experienced? What kinds of violence do men, women, and other subgroups of black Africans face in Darfur, and how do they interpret their victimization? How has the international community reinterpreted it for more than a decade in order to ignore and avoid the genocide?
When do State interventions reduce or worsen cycles of violence in communities? How have U.S. policies perpetuated violence both at home in American cities and abroad in U.S.-led conflicts like the Iraq War? How did ordinary Iraqis experience racially charged military attacks and segregation in their communities? What is the link between such aggressive tactics, resulting insurgent and terrorist violence, and long-term community change for the Sunni and Shi’a?