|2009-2011||MFA, University of Virginia|
|2002-2006||BA, Dartmouth College|
Policing Black Power: Riot, Incitement, and the Criminalization of Dissent (Dissertation Project)
Dissertation in Culture
First supervisor: Prof. Martin Lüthe
Second supervisor: Prof. Frank Kelleter
Third supervisor: Prof. David Nasaw
Speaking to a group of editors and broadcasters in 1964, US President Lyndon B. Johnson remarked that, “What is written in your papers and the way in which you conduct your business helps millions of Americans in hundreds of cities and towns in shaping the kind of world that we are going to live in. These views, in turn, affect the actions of your representatives in Congress. They affect the Presidency. They provide the solid framework for public opinion which is both the principal support and the principal limitation of democracy.” Though crude, Johnson’s description of the relationship between democratic institutions and the news media captures the basic view taken by both government officials and Black freedom movement actors in late 1960s America. For both, public opinion was a strategic battlefield, as elusive as it was contested.
My dissertation explores the structural processes through which a hegemonic narrative about protest, riot, and Black Power was produced and materialized within the public sphere in the late 1960s. I argue that a “consensus” story was generated within not only the news media, but various executive, legislative, and jurisprudential bodies in a complex process of discursive production. This story, I argue, was manifested in the drafting and enforcing of criminal law, operating, in effect, to silence Black dissent – and buttress a process of carceral state-building under US racial capitalism. The project is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on methodologies from political philosophy, critical race theory, and cultural studies, and is situated firmly within the historiography of the US carceral state. This multi-pronged approach allows me to reveal connections between different domains of power – especially the cultural and disciplinary – and to demonstrate the inextricability of cultural and political processes in the (re)production of racial hierarchy in western liberal democracy.