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January 19, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EST

Speaker Series: 2021-22 ABF Doctoral Fellows

Brandon Alston, Isabel Anadon, and Alex Reiss-Sorokin
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In-Person (ABF Offices, 750 N Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor Chicago, IL)

Brandon Alston: “The Camera is My Weapon:” How Black Men Use Cellphones to Negotiate Safety and Status Amid Police Surveillance

Civilians frequently capture black men in cellphone-generated videos depicting police violence. Yet, existing research ignores how black men use cellphones to mitigate risk during police encounters and the impact cellphone recording has within black communities. In this talk, I examine how the threat of police violence shapes black men’s use of cellphones during police stops and the social dynamics that emerge from cellphone recording. Drawing on ten months of fieldwork and 70 in-depth interviews with black men living on the Southwest side of Chicago, this study finds that vulnerability to police violence shapes men’s appropriation of cellphones to negotiate their safety and status as men. Armed with their cellphones as an instrumental tool to contest police violence, men use their cellphones to protect against institutional and interpersonal acts of harm, a strategy I refer to as “protective monitoring.” While monitoring police for safety, men also use cellphones as a symbolic resource to project a multidimensional expression of manhood tied to fatherhood, citizenship, and redemption. By deploying their cellphones during police interventions, men mitigate some of the consequences of criminalization, appeal to dominant gender ideals, and perform resistance to police as a community service.

View Brandon’s ABF profile here.


Isabel Anadon: Interior Immigration Enforcement: Structural Mechanisms & the Punishment of Migrants in the United States

The regime of mass incarceration in the United States and the nation’s system of immigration and border enforcement are imagined as two distinct forms of state policing and punishment. However, advocates, historians and legal scholars argue that the U.S. deportation and detention center system is an extension of the carceral state. My research heeds these concerns and situates the entangled development between the current system of mass incarceration and immigration control particularly as it relates to the nation’s interior in the United States. More specifically, this presentation provides evidence of a relationship between immigrant detention centers openings and prison building since 1980. For this study, I build a novel dataset merging detention centers initiation dates with prison facility openings. Using a rare-event logistic regression model, I provide evidence of how these institutions shape local community characteristics. Preliminary findings point to potential harmful socio-economic outcomes in places with high-level detention center development.

More generally, this research pulls from my dissertation project, Interior Immigration Enforcement: Structural Mechanisms & the Punishment of Migrants in the United States, where I develop a framework to explicate how the mechanisms of interior immigration enforcement situate in local level immigration laws and policies; detention center proliferation; and the overly complex and taxed immigration court system.

View Isabel’s ABF profile here.


Alex Reiss-Sorokin: The Costs of Access to Legal Information

Although court decisions and legislation are considered public, lawyers, legal professionals, and researchers depend on commercial services to access and effectively use them. This talk focuses on the costs of accessing legal information by investigating the development of one commercial service: Lexis. In the late 1960s, before Lexis was one of the two dominant legal databases used in the United States, it was a legal research system developed by a group of Ohio lawyers to improve access to legal information for Ohio lawyers. According to the vision of the Ohio Bar Automated Research (OBAR) organization, the computer was to serve as an equalizer – eliminating differences in resources and status between lawyers. Based on ads, internal reports, conference presentations, journal articles, and correspondence, this talk examines how a tool that was meant to expand access to legal information ended up making access more restricted and costly. This talk is part of a larger project that examines the ways in which legal information is made accessible and their implications on legal education and the quality and costs of legal services.

View Alex’s ABF profile here.