September 27, 2016 at 10:28 am

New Faculty Kirstine Taylor Specializes in Race and Law

Dr. Kirstine Taylor has joined Ohio University as an Assistant Professor with joint appointments in the Political Science Department and the Center for Law, Justice & Culture.Center for Law Justice & Culture logo

Taylor is a law and society scholar who specializes in the politics of race in American democratic thought and institutions, and African American political thought.

“I focus on these areas because, as a human being in the world worried about the state of race, thinking about the role of law in creating racial categories and maintaining racial injustice is incredibly important” said Taylor, who teaches POLS 4754: Black Political Thought and POLS 4739: Politics of Race.

Taylor’s interest in race and law also stems from her formal education. Taylor credits her undergraduate training in the Department of Politics at Scripps College in Claremont, CA, for stimulating this passion.

“My academic training and career has focused on the politics of race, theory and American politics. As a scholar, I have always followed this academic trajectory,” she said.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations, Taylor went on to pursue her master’s and doctoral degrees in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington.

There, Taylor wrote her dissertation, titled Racial Violence and the Politics of Innocence: From the Postwar South to Post-Racial America. 

“The biggest thing I’m working on right now is trying to fashion my dissertation into a book,” said Taylor.

“My research focuses on racialized law and order politics in the American setting. I would love to teach classes here at Ohio University on mass incarceration, abolition, and race.”

Her research specifically delves into the history of race in the American South after Brown v. Board of Education—a time period which, according to Taylor, is relevant in considering the problems of the present.

“This period has had some very obvious impacts today,” Taylor said. “There are a lot of reasons why we have had problems with police and mass incarceration. I’m really interested in thinking through the relationship between those developments.”

While at the University of Washington, Taylor also taught for several years as an graduate student and then for one year as a post-doctoral lecturer before coming to Ohio University.

In fact, Taylor’s time at University of Washington in part drew her to Ohio University.

At the University of Washington, Taylor worked closely with Michael McCann, a political scientist whose work focuses on the politics of rights and rights-based struggles for social justice, with an emphasis on challenges to race, gender, and class hierarchies.

A senior scholar in law and society studies, McCann was the leading architect and advocate of the Law, Societies, and Justice program as well as the Comparative Law and Society Studies Center at the University of Washington.

McCann has mentored Ohio University faculty members Dr. John GilliomDr. Vincent Jungkunz, and Dr. Jennifer Fredette.

For Taylor, these connections between Ohio University and University of Washington were not the only draws to Ohio University.

“In terms of the Political Science Department, it has a really great reputation,” Taylor said. “There are a lot of scholars here who are doing really interesting work.”

Taylor’s excitement to be at Ohio University is not just limited to the interesting nature of the work here, but also due to the variety of work in Political Science and the Center for Law, Justice and Culture.

“I love being a part of a department that does a lot of different kinds of research,” Taylor said. “That’s really invigorating. The more diversity of opinion and methodology, the better we can serve our students.”

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