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Speaker Series: ABF Doctoral Fellows

  • When: January 19, 2022
  • Where: Zoom: To register, contact Sophie Kofman at

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ABF Presents its 2021 Doctoral Fellows

"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. 

Brandon Alston, ABF/Northwestern University (NU) Doctoral Fellow in Law and Social Science

Brandon Alston is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University with graduate certificates in African American Studies and Teaching and Learning. His research examines how parallel surveillance systems operate across poor neighborhoods, prisons, and probation programs. Brandon has been recognized as a National Academies of Science Ford Predoctoral Fellow and a member of the Edward Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. He has received awards from regional and national professional associations, including the Midwest Sociological Society, Association of Black Sociologists, and American Men’s Studies Association. Brandon previously earned a Master of Science in Management from Wake Forest University Business School, where he was a Corporate Fellow. In addition, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Religion (with distinction) from Haverford College, where he was a recipient of the MellonMays Fellowship.

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. 

Isabel Anadon, ABF/National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Fellow in Law and Inequality

Isabel Anadon is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research examines the intersection of punishment and migration with a focus on race and ethnicity and the sociology of law. Her dissertation, “Interior Immigration Enforcement: structural mechanisms and the punishment of immigrants in the United States,” conceptualizes systems of immigrant punishment into three broad and intersecting areas: 1) institutions, 2) laws and policies, and 3) procedural processes. This project uncovers how these key structural mechanisms impact outcomes for immigrants and other populations across space and time. Her research is inspired by her extensive community organizing and collaborative efforts alongside local Chicago communities and stakeholders on issues of immigrant integration, education, local & federal immigration policy and access to health care. Isabel has a M.S. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, M.P.P. from the University of Chicago. and a dual B.A. in Anthropology and Psychology from the University of Notre Dame.

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.

Alex Reiss-Sorokin, ABF/AccessLex Institute Doctoral Fellow in Legal and Higher Education

Alex Reiss-Sorokin is a doctoral candidate in the Program in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research examines how technological and policy choices around legal information structure legal practice and access to justice. Her dissertation project combines historical and ethnographic methods to trace how lawyers, professors, librarians, and technologists talk about, develop, and use legal information technologies across the United States, Israel, and Russia. Alex holds an LL.B. from Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University School of Law. She also holds a BA from the Multidisciplinary Program in Humanities at Tel Aviv University with a focus on the history and philosophy of science and ideas. Alex is licensed to practice law in Israel and New York State and has worked as a criminal defense attorney in Israel.

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