Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Michelle Fine

Committee Members

Brett Stoudt

Dána-Ain Davis

Bita Amani

Sarah Haley

Subject Categories

Africana Studies | American Studies | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Human Geography | Inequality and Stratification | Other Anthropology | Race and Ethnicity | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Social Psychology | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


Black feminism, Black women, Abolition, Carceral State, Los Angeles, Feminist ethnography


This project centers the multi-generational familial relationships between system-impacted Black women, mapping and uncovering the ways in which incarceration and practices of punishment impact, shape, hurt, and displace Black femme lineages. Through a qualitative lens and a specific focus on the current social and political landscape of Los Angeles, this dissertation examines the ways Black women are impacted by carceral ideology; from punitive definitions of Black womanhood, to the surveillance on Black femme familial intimacy and the rupture of Black women’s sense of home and place. Understandings of mass incarceration are frequently male-centered and most analyses of Black women’s system contact remain focused on the consequences of interpersonal violence and deficits. In place of this, this work engages with a more expansive and nuanced conception of system-involvement, explores the legacies of punishment hinged on Black femme bodies, and documents how the unique racialized gender positionalities of Black women result in a particular and often invisiblized history with mass incarceration. Pulling on Black feminist epistemologies, critical geography, and critical feminist ethnography, this is an investigation into the intersection of punishment and Black women that is both structural and deeply intimate.