Guest Speakers

The mic is live.

The Baldy Center proudly sponsors a series of speakers each year who share their ongoing work on important topics in law and society. The speakers provide an important catalyst for research and dialogue in The Baldy Center community.

On this page



Michelle S. Phelps (University of Minnesota)

APRIL 26, 2024 SPEAKER Michelle Phelps (Author) The Minneapolis Reckoning: Race, Violence, and the Politics of Policing in America. Princeton UP, 2024.

Michelle S. Phelps

The Minneapolis Reckoning: Race, Violence, and the Politics of Policing in America (Princeton UP, 2024)
Michelle Phelps (Author)
APRIL 26, 2024 
Noon Reception
12:30 p.m. Lecture
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Attend in-person or via Zoom.
Abstract: In the summer of 2020, the city of Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) became a national emblem of both the persistence of racialized police violence and the failures of liberal police reform. Thrust into the national spotlight, city leaders pledged to “end” the MPD. Yet as The Minneapolis Reckoning traces, nearly four years later, the MPD remains intact, protected by the complex racial politics of policing that position the MPD as both the cause and solution to the problem of violence.

At the same time, Minneapolis’ residents and leaders have fought aggressively for new models of public safety, including alternative emergency response and violence prevention systems, transforming the city. Phelps' talk will consider both the failures and wins of the radical demands of 2020 to better understand the possibilities and limits of challenging police power today.

New from Princeton: preview the book here.

Author Bio: I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. My research is in the sociology of punishment, focusing in particular on the punitive turn in the U.S. through the lenses of policing, probation, and prisons. Recent work from these projects has been published in interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journals, including American Journal of Sociology (Phelps, Robertson, & Powell 2021), Sociology of Race & Ethnicity (Phelps & Hamilton 2021), Social Problems (Phelps & Ruhland 2022),  Mobilization (Phelps, Ward, & Frazier 2021), Law & Society Review (Powell & Phelps 2021), Law & Social Inquiry (Piehowski & Phelps 2023), and Annual Review of Criminology (Phelps 2020).* 

Together with Philip Goodman (University of Toronto) and Joshua Page (University of Minnesota), I am the author of Breaking the Pendulum: The Long Struggle Over Criminal Justice (Oxford, 2017), which traces the history of U.S. criminal justice reforms from the birth of the penitentiary to contemporary struggles to end mass incarceration. My second book, The Minneapolis Reckoning: Race, Violence, and the Politics of Policing in America, will come out in May 2024. To learn more, visit personal website.



Kim Scheppele and John Morijn

EU Banner.

EU flags in front of European Commission in Brussel; image courtesy of European Union.

Money for Nothing? Freezing EU Funds to Generate Compliance with EU Values

The widely used flag of Europe shows a five-pointed 12-star circle centered on a field of dark blue. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The widely used flag of Europe shows a five-pointed 12-star circle centered on a field of dark blue. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Kim Lane Scheppele (Princeton)
John Morijn (Groningen and Princeton Universities)
March 1, 2024
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Money for Nothing? Freezing EU Funds to Generate Compliance with EU Values
Since 2010, the European Union has coped with rogue Member States that reject its fundamental values. For more than a decade, the European Commission cajoled, expressed concern and occasionally brought infringement actions, but made little difference. Finally, the EU passed a set of regulations with the new EU budget cycle that explicitly permit the Union to freeze funds to Member States that do not honour EU values. In 2022, the EU then froze all non-agricultural funds to Hungary and Poland.  But did these funds freezes restore EU values? The results are mixed.

Poland’s 2023 election, run centrally on Poland’s place in the EU, brought a pro-EU coalition to power pledging to restore rule of law to Poland. Hungary’s government passed a flurry of laws that appeared to, but did not, fix the problems that the EU institutions had identified. More than any other mechanism that the EU has tried, however, the funding freezes spurred action and moved rogue states’ publics to criticize their own governments. As we write, however, there are worrisome signs that the EU will cave into pressure from the rogue states before the benefits of budgetary conditionality have been realized.  

Kim Lane Scheppele.

Kim Lane Scheppele 

Kim Lane Scheppele is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She is also a faculty fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Her primary field is the sociology of law and she specializes in ethnographic and archival research on courts and public institutions. Scheppele also works in sociological theory, comparative/historical sociology, political sociology, sociology of knowledge and human rights. 

John Morijn.

John Morijn

John Morijn, University of Groningen, Professor of law and politics in international relations was recently appointed Fellow in Law and Public Policy at Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. He engages in research and teaching in the fields of rule of law protection and democracy, European human rights law, EU Charter of Fundamental Right); international human rights law; and, human rights protection in The Netherlands Morijn currently holds a chair endowed by the Netherlands Association for International Affairs (NGIZ), and is a member of the Dutch Advisory Council on Migration and the Scientific Committee of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency. Morijn serves as a reserve officer in the rule of law platoon in the Royal Dutch Army. At the University of Groningen, he is the founding mentor of "Our Rule of Law", a for-students-by-students initiative that creates opportunities for students to learn about democracy and rule of law protection in Europe.

March 25, 2024 Featured Speakers


Join The Baldy Center on March 25 for two special events. At noon we sponsor the lecture by Jiří Přibáň (Cardiff) on constitutional populism and explosive communities. At 4:00 p.m. we host the book talk by Paul Linden-Retek (School of Law), author of Postnational Constitutionalism: Europe and the Time of Law (Oxford UP, 2023).

Speaker at Noon: Jiří Přibáň (Cardiff)

NOON, 12:00 p.m, 509 O'Brian Hall

Jiří Přibáň (Cardiff)
Constitutional populism and explosive communities: Identity politics and authenticity in a global society

Abstract: Populist politics shows that the imaginary of the authentic polity existing truthfully and in harmony with its 'real' collective identity is common to the great variety of populist politics and continues to play a profound role in the contemporary globalised political condition including the post-national condition of the European Union. The paradox of modern constitutional democracy in which constituent power of the sovereign people, by definition unlimited, can materialise only through constituted power of a limiting legal constitution subsequently finds its specific form in the imaginary of the authentic polity by stretching the first constitutional question Who is the people as a political sovereign? into a pre-political question of What is the true and honest voice and will of this people? Searching for sociological answers to these political and legal problems associated with the recent resurgence of populism, Bauman, in the spirit of the classic distinction between community and society, described new forms of identity politics as communal responses to the process of societal globalisation. Communitarian identity politics confronts the void of meaning created by globalisation and constitutes specific globalised forms of affective tribalism labelled by Bauman as 'explosive communities'. These are disruptive and even violent responses to the growing social insecurity and instability caused by global social and political developments. The world is imagined as out of control and suffering from chaos and decline which can be reverted only by a radical action and reassertion of the commonly shared values and meaningful existence. Explosive communities are thus defensive mechanisms constituting the shared identity as a shield against what Bauman described as 'terrors of the global' and effects of 'negative globalisation'.

Book Talk at 4:00 p.m: Paul Linden-Retek (UB SOL)

4:00 p.m, 509 O'Brian Hall

Paul Linden-Retek (School of Law) Postnational Constitutionalism: Europe and the Time of Law (Oxford UP, 2023)

At a time when the integration of the European Union's peoples through the rule of law is faltering, this book develops a critical theory of postnational constitutionalism. Today, widely held conceptions of EU law continue to mislead citizens about the nature of political identity, sovereignty, and agency. They lose sight of a critical idea on which post-nationalism depends-that constitutional self-authorship is narrative, and the polity is a subject whose identity, history, and legacy are still in formation. Absent this vision, EU law reproduces crises of legitimacy: the depoliticization of public life; emergency rule by executive decree; a collapse of solidarity; and the rise of nativist movements. The book diagnoses this impasse as the product of a problem familiar to modernity: reification--a process in which social and historical relationships are misattributed as timeless relations among things.

Reification's shrinking of social dilemmas, moral principles, and political action to narrow perceptions of the present explains law's role in perpetuating crisis. But this diagnosis also points to a remedy. It suggests that to sustain the emancipatory potential of EU constitutionalism we must recover law's relationship to time. Postnational Constitutionalism: Europe and the Time of Law proposes a temporally-attuned constitutional theory with principles of anti-reification, narrative interpretation, and non-sovereign agency at its centre. These principles reimagine essential domains of constitutional order: social integration, constitutional adjudication, and constituent power. Spanning various bodies of EU jurisprudence, the book devotes particular attention to migration and asylum--struggles where questions of solidarity, law, and belonging are most generative and acute.

Postnational Constitutionalism: Europe and the Time of Law (Oxford UP, 2023) 

  • Proposes a synthetic, critical theory of the structure and spirit of EU integration and constitutional order.
    Argues that refugee and migration law and policy have a particularly salient role to play in a revived and renewed narrative of EU integration.
  • Constitutes an innovative, multidisciplinary work that incorporates a wide array of perspectives, such as Frankfurt School critical theory, critical legal studies, democratic and constitutional theory, postmodern ethical thought, comparative constitutional law, and EU legal doctrine and legal development.
  • Revives EU law's emancipatory and transformative potential.

March 29, 2024 Featured Speaker

Melissa Crouch, The Baldy Center Fellow, 2024

Melissa Crouch.

Melissa Crouch

Melissa Crouch, PhD, is a senior research fellow at The Baldy Center. While in residence here, Dr. Crouch will be working on a manuscript about constitutional endurance and how past constitutions matter to contemporary reform debates in Myanmar. Based on her field research, the manuscript offers a constitutive approach to the relationship between constitutions and societies in the postcolony, with a focus on how periods of military rule and unconstitutional rule shape constitutional futures.

As a professor at the Faculty of Law & Justice, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, Dr. Crouch's research contributes to the interdisciplinary fields of law and society; comparative constitutional law, with a focus on Asia. In 2022, she won the Podgorecki Prize for outstanding scholarship of an early career socio-legal scholar, awarded by the Research Committee on the Sociology of Law, the International Sociological Association. Dr. Crouch is the president of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (2023-2024), the peak academic body for the study of Asia in Australia.


"The Military Turn in Comparative Constitutional Law: Constitutions and the Military in Authoritarian Regimes"

Abstract: In this article I argue that studies of constitutions in authoritarian regimes reveal a new finding hiding in plain sight: that the military is often a pivotal constitutional actor. The question of how the military uses law and constitutions to enable and facilitate its influence in constitution-making and constitutional practise is under-researched. The military demands scholarly attention because of the unprecedented opportunities for the military as a constitutional actor due to the rise of populism and the decline of democracy; an increase in civil conflict; intensified efforts at counter-terrorism and anti-trafficking; and the COVID-19 global pandemic.

I review the literature across law and the social sciences on the military and the constitution in authoritarian regimes. In doing so, I demonstrate that the military is an important, yet overlooked, constitutional actor; that civilian control of the military is never absolute but a matter of degree and changes over time; and that histories of military rule and military use of law and constitutions matter. I call for a turn to the study of the military as a constitutional actor in comparative constitutional law.


Umut Özsu (Carleton University, Ottawa)

Umut Özsu (Carleton University, Ottawa).

Umut Özsu 

Completing Humanity: The International Law of Decolonization, 1960-8 (Cambridge, 2023)
Umut Özsu (Carleton University, Ottawa)
April 12, 2024
Friday, Noon, 509 O'Brian Hall
Abstract: After the Second World War, the dissolution of European empires and emergence of 'new states' in Asia, Africa, Oceania, and elsewhere necessitated large-scale structural changes in international legal order. In Completing Humanity, my new book, I recount the history of the struggle to transform international law during the twentieth century's last major wave of decolonization.

Commencing in 1960, with the General Assembly's landmark decolonization resolution, and concluding in 1982, with the close of the third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea and the onset of the Latin American debt crisis, my book examines the work of elite international lawyers from newly independent states alongside that of international law specialists from 'First World' and socialist states. A study in modifications to legal theory and doctrine over time, it documents and reassesses post-1945 decolonization from the standpoint of the 'Third World' and the jurists who elaborated and defended its interests.

Preview the book on Academia, here.

Speaker Bio: Umut Özsu is a scholar of public international law, the history and theory of international law, and Marxist critiques of law, rights, and the state. He is the author of Completing Humanity: The International Law of Decolonization, 1960–82 (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Recounting the struggle to transform international law during the last major wave of decolonization, the book documents and reassesses post-1945 decolonization from the standpoint of the “Third World” and the jurists who elaborated and defended its interests.

Özsu is the author of Formalizing Displacement: International Law and Population Transfers (Oxford University Press, 2015), which situates “population transfer” within the broader history of international law by examining the interwar exchange of minorities between Greece and Turkey—the first legally structured large-scale endeavour in compulsory population exchange in modern international history. Özsu is also co-editor of the Research Handbook on Law and Marxism (Edward Elgar, 2021) and The Extraterritoriality of Law: History, Theory, Politics (Routledge, 2019), as well as several journal symposia.




Claire Priest (Yale)

Claire Priest.

Claire Priest (Yale Law School)

"From Invasion to Formalization: The Peruvian Origins of the Property Titling Movement"
NOVEMBER 3, 2023

Friday, Noon, Reception
12:30 p.m. Lecture
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Attend in-person or via Zoom.
Request the paper in advance via email to

Speaker Bio: Claire Priest is the author of Credit Nation: Property Laws and Institutions in Early America (Princeton University Press). The book describes how even before the United States became a country, laws prioritizing access to credit set colonial America apart from the rest of the world.


Tao L. Dumas (TCNJ Political Science)

Tao Dumas.

Tao Dumas


“Anyone but the Lawyer: Race, Gender, and Misattribution in the Legal Profession”

NOVEMBER 17, 2023

Noon Reception, 12:30 p.m. Lecture
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Attend in-person or via Zoom.
Speaker Bio: Tao Dumas is associate professor of political science at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Dumas' research focuses on the political role of U.S. courts and the ways lawyers shape and work within the legal system. She is interested in how institutional differences across states condition winners and losers in the courts and how attorneys’ experience, expertise, and demographics impact their legal practices. (Paper made available prior to event.)


Greta LaFleur.

Greta LaFleur

Bio: Greta LaFleur, an associate professor of American Studies at Yale University, has been awarded a mid-career research fellowship at The Baldy Center for Fall 2023. LaFleur’s research and teaching focus on eighteenth-century North America, with special emphasis on the histories of science, the histories of race, the history and historiography of sexuality, and queer & trans studies. Author of The Natural History of Sexuality in Early America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). LaFleur's fellowship at The Baldy Center will be dedicated to working on a second scholarly monograph, tentatively titled How Sex Became Good: The Feminist Movements and Racial Politics that Made Modern Sexuality (under contract with The University of Chicago Press). The work tracks how cultural and legal responses to the problem of sexual violence shaped the politicization of sexuality in the modern period.  

LaFleur is also the editor of: a special issue of American Quarterly, “Origins of Biopolitics in the Americas”  (2019, with Kyla Schuller); a special issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly on “Trans Exclusionary Feminisms and the Global New Right” (2022, with Serena Bassi); and, a special issue of GLQ on “The Science of Sex Itself” (2023, with Benjamin Kahan).  

LaFleur’s research has been supported by several fellowships, including those at: the Institute for Advanced Study (School of Social Sciences); the American Council of Learned Societies; the Massachusetts Historical Society; the William Andrews Clark Library at UCLA; the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University; The Clement Library at The University of Michigan; the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, MA; and, The Newberry Library in Chicago. LaFleur holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from The University of Connecticut.

Greta LaFleur, The Baldy Center Mid-Career Fellow
"Sex Panics and Risk Metrics: Law, Propensity, and the History of Sexuality"
Paper available in advance if the event.
Friday, Noon, 509 O'Brian Hall
Attend in-person or via Zoom.

Related Link

Greta LaFleur

Greta LaFleur, The Baldy Center Mid-career Fellow
"Sex Panics and Risk Metrics: Law, Propensity, and the History of Sexuality"
Noon, Friday, 509 O'Brian Hall
Attend in-person or via Zoom registration.



Library of Congress webinar on Actual Malice: Civil Rights and Freedom of the Press in New York Times v. Sullivan


Library of Congress: Watch a Recording of our 2023 Constitution Day Event | In Custodia Legis (

SEPTEMBER 14, 2023
(Livestreamed 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. ETThe Library of Congress presents Constitution Day 2023, featuring UB School of Law Professor Samantha Barbas who will discuss the roots of the U.S. Supreme Court’s New York Times v. Sullivan decision, which created the “actual malice” standard that a public official must prove in a successful suit for defamation. Learn more about the book.


Cynthia Estlund (NYU Law)

Cynthia Estlund.

Cynthia Estlund (NYU, Law)

SEPTEMBER 22, 2023
“Democratic Contestation Rights for the Workplaces We Have” 

509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus
Noon, Reception
12:30 p.m., Lecture
Attend in-person or via Zoom registration.

Speaker Bio: Cynthia Estlund is the Catherine A. Rein Professor at NYU School of Law. Her most recent book is Automation Anxiety: Why and How to Save Work (Oxford, 2021). She has published widely on the law and regulation of work, including three earlier books: A New Deal for China’s Workers? (Harvard, 2017); Regoverning the Workplace: From Self-Regulation to Co-Regulation (Yale, 2010); and Working Together: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy (Oxford, 2003). 


Estlund's lecture draws from her recent book, Automation Anxiety: Why and How to Save Work (Oxford 2021). The book confronts the prospect of mounting job losses from automation and proposes a strategy to move forward from the shrinking demand for human labor. Estlund offers a multifaceted strategy centered on conserving, creating, and spreading work to ensure broad access to adequate incomes, more free time, and decent remunerative work in a world with less of it. Addresses growing economic inequality and persistent racial stratification as we face the prospect of net job losses

From Oxford University Press: Are super-capable robots and algorithms destined to devour our jobs and idle much of the adult population? Predictions of a jobless future have recurred in waves since the advent of industrialization, only to crest and retreat as new jobs-usually better ones-have replaced those lost to machines. But there's good reason to believe that this time is different. Ongoing innovations in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics are already destroying more decent middle-skill jobs than they are creating, and may be leading to a future of growing job scarcity. But there are many possible versions of that future, ranging from utterly dystopian to humane and broadly appealing. It all depends on how we respond.

This book confronts the hotly-debated prospect of mounting job losses due to automation, and the widely-divergent hopes and fears that prospect evokes, and proposes a strategy for both mitigating the losses and spreading the gains from shrinking demand for human labor. We should set our collective sights, it argues, on ensuring access to adequate incomes, more free time, and decent remunerative work even in a future with less of it. Getting there will require not a single "magic bullet" solution like universal basic income or a federal job guarantee but a multi-pronged program centered on conserving, creating, and spreading work. What the book proposes for a foreseeable future of less work will simultaneously help to address growing economic inequality and persistent racial stratification, and makes sense here and now but especially as we face the prospect of net job losses.


Alan W. Clarke.

Alan W. Clarke

Alan W. Clarke, professor emeritus in the Integrated Studies Program, Utah Valley University, is a senior fellow at The Baldy Center, Fall, 2023. Clarke holds a Juris Doctor from the College of William and Mary, an LLM from Queen’s University, and a PhD from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. He practiced law after graduating from William and Mary, with a focus on social justice broadly construed, including, civil rights, voting rights, labor organizing, poverty law, and death penalty post-conviction process.

Clarke’s academic research since 1997 has revolved around several broad, connected themes in international and transnational criminal law and human rights, criminology and criminal justice policy, civil rights, legal history, law and society, and critical legal studies, climate change and survival refugees.

Clarke plans to analyze interdisciplinary legal studies on the boundaries of human rights, international criminal law, immigration law, demography, human and cultural geography, political science, during the term of The Baldy Center senior fellowship. He has published extensively in law reviews and social science journals and has authored or co-authored three books:

  • Laurelyn Whitt and Alan W. Clarke, North American Genocides: Indigenous Nations, Settler Colonialism and International Criminal Law, Cambridge University Press (2019)
  • Alan W. Clarke, Rendition to Torture, Rutgers University Press (2012)
  • Alan W. Clarke & Laurelyn Whitt, The Bitter Fruit of American Justice: International and Domestic Resistance to the Death Penalty, Northeastern University Press (2007)

Clarke's recent focus on policy and legal responses to human migration and refugees influenced by climate change has been published in an article Climate Change, Migration and Pandemics: Human Rights in the Anthropocene, in 47 Vermont Law Review 1 (2022). While continuing to work in the area of survival migrants Clarke will also investigate international legal issues revolving around the evolving legal issues surrounding Russia’s war of aggression with a particular focus on the need to create a hybrid international court.

Related Links


Mihreteab Tsighe Taye (School of Law)

Mihreteab Taye (UB School of Law).

“Vulnerability of Academic Freedom in Countries under Violent Conflict”
OCTOBER 24, 2023

Tuesday, 3:00 p.m.
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Attend in-person or via Zoom
Join us for a presentation by Dr. Mihreteab Tsighe Taye (School of Law) a native of Ethiopia, who came to UB through the university’s Scholars at Risk fellowship program, which provides a safe and supportive academic home to scholars who face threats in their country of origin. At the school of law, Taye's research focuses on human rights law and international courts, specifically the African Human Rights Court and the East African Community Court. 

Prior to coming to UB, Taye was at New York University School of Law as a Research Scholar from 2022-2023, and, a Hauser Postdoctoral Global Fellow from 2021-2022. Professor Taye received his Ph.D. in Law from the University of Copenhagen, an LL.B. from Addis Ababa University, and a master’s in international law from Erasmus University Rotterdam. Taye's research has focused particularly on law and politics in regional human rights and economic courts in Africa. 



Dr. Mary Frances Berry

History Teaches Us to Resist: Struggles and Progress in Challenging Times

Mary Berry.

Dr. Mary Frances Berry, portrait courtesy of APB.

APRIL 5, 2023, Co-Sponsored Speaker
Dr. Mary Frances Berry
 (University of Pennsylvania)
Hybrid event, in-person and via Zoom.

Dr. Mary Frances Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, History and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She insists that each generation has the responsibility to make a dent in the wall of injustice. In her latest book, History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times, Dr. Berry recounts many of the protests in which she was active, analyzes their organizing strategies, and considers the lessons we can learn from them. 

For event details, visit the website: 
UB CAS Department of Africana and American Studies

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Africana and American Studies, and The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, School of Law, with support provided by the Department of History, the Gender Institute, and, the Department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Michael Levien

A Green New Deal in Red States? Towards a Sociology of Energy Transition

Michael Levien.

Michael Levien, PhD

APRIL 6, 2023, Co-Sponsored Speaker
Michael Levien 
(Johns Hopkins University)
Thursday, 3:00 pm ET
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
The hybrid event is held in-person and via Zoom

A Green New Deal in Red States? 
Towards a Sociology of Energy Transition

Abstract: Averting catastrophic climate change requires winding down fossil fuel production over the next few decades. Although renewable energy will create “green jobs,” these are thus far more poorly paid and less unionized than those in fossil fuel industries. They are also unlikely to employ the exact same workers in the same regions.  Without major efforts to the contrary, a renewable energy transition is thus likely to deindustrialize fossil fuel producing regions, generating a familiar pattern of job loss, social dislocation and political resentment. Adding to the political challenge, a majority of fossil fuel production in the United States occurs in red states and disproportionately employs white men without college degrees—the constituency that has proven most receptive to right-populist appeals, including to protect fossil fuel industries. While most climate and energy policy completely neglects the regional political economy of fossil fuel production, I argue that current left theories of climate politics—including those concerned with “Just Transition” and a Green New Deal—are also so far inadequate to the problem. Drawing on preliminary ethnographic and interview research in West Virginia and Louisiana, I demonstrate the limitations of these proposals to overcome local fossil fuel hegemonies and to build the needed political coalitions for a renewable energy transition. While drawing some tentative conclusions about how these political programs might be strengthened, I argue that doing so requires more sociological and specifically ethnographic research on comparative energy transitions.

Bio: Michael Levien is associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. His research falls within the fields of development sociology, political sociology, agrarian political economy and social theory. The main focus of his research has been on the drivers, consequences, and politics of land dispossession. This research has been largely ethnographic and focused on India, but has also included cross-national comparisons. Additional research interests have included the expansion of land-related corruption and criminality in post-liberalization India, and global trends in public opinion towards markets and inequality over the past three decades. His new research focuses on climate change and the politics of energy transition in fossil fuel producing regions in the U.S.

The event is hosted by the Critical Ecologies Research Collaborative through a grant made possible by the UB Office of International Education. Co-sponsors include The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.


Veronica L. Horowitz

Incarceration during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Compounding the Pains of Imprisonment.

Veronica Horowitz, PhD.

Veronica Horowitz, PhD

Veronica L. Horowitz  
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus
Noon, Reception;
12:30 pm, Lecture.
Attend in-person or via Zoom.



Presentation:  Incarceration during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Compounding the Pains of Imprisonment. 

Co-Authors: Veronica L. Horowitz, Synove Anderson and Jordan Hyatt 

Abstract: For people in prison, incarceration can be both intentionally difficult (as part of retributive punishment) and experienced in less purposeful or justified ways. Beginning with Sykes, scholars have long sought to classify the various “pains of imprisonment” into a theoretical taxonomy. Within the modern carceral environment, however, the way these pains are both applied and lived has become increasingly dynamic. The experience of, and fallout from, the COVID-19 global pandemic, which uniquely affected prison communities, has additionally compounded these shifts. To critically examine these theoretical and practical relationships, we conducted semi-structured interviews with incarcerated men (n=58) who were imprisoned in a medium security prison in a Northeastern state throughout the pandemic. Qualitative analyses explore the perceived painfulness of incarceration in this context as well as throughout their sentences. We find that COVID-19 amplified, diversified, and compounded both new and classic pains of imprisonment. Beyond the pandemic, these findings expand our understanding of how carceral punishments are experienced, highlighting the fluid and interconnected relationship between simultaneous pains and providing a more generalizable framework for understanding the lived experience of incarceration.

Bio: Veronica L. Horowitz, recipient of a research grant from The Baldy Center, is an assistant professor in the department of sociology, University at Buffalo. Her research focuses on American criminal punishment broadly, with subfocuses on gender, stratification, and mercy. Faculty profile.



FALL 2021