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Sociology in the News

Brown Selected for Visiting Fellow in Glasgow

Brown Selected for Visiting Fellow in Glasgow

Michelle Brown, professor and associate head in the Department of Sociology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, received a 2022 Visiting Fellow to the University of Glasgow's School of Social and Political Sciences to spend July at the Scottish Centre of Crime and Justice Research. 


Brown, a leading abolitionist scholar, will work with faculty to investigate Scotland’s historical ties to slavery and its effects on present day punishment. Brown is the first abolitionist scholar to visit the University of Glasgow. 


“I’ll be there giving talks, meeting students, and facilitating workshops on these issues, as well as building digital spaces to be accessible and usable for students and community members organizing around criminal justice reform,” Brown said. “At this point in my career, everything I’m doing is collaborative. I work with students and communities across the United States and the world on these transformative issues. I want this work to be much more international.” 


According to Brown, 1 out of 2 Americans have a loved one in prison or jail, including her. 


“I grew up with family members who were both in the system and working in the system and several of them suffered various forms of exclusion and punishment from poverty and addiction,” Brown said. “Mass incarceration and the criminal justice system today is seen as the singular and only answer to all of our major social problems. Pushing for alternatives to prison and punishment is part of the reason I’ve been invited to Glasgow.”


Brown is part of numerous sponsored projects through 2022 and 2023 in effort to progress her research and teachings. She is the author of The Culture of Punishment and co-author of Criminology Goes to the Movies. Brown has received several different awards, including the 2016 Criminal Criminologist of the year by the Division of Critical Criminology and Social Justice of the American Society of Criminology. Her work in Scotland this summer will continue to research imprisonment and alternatives to punishment. 


“The students and faculty are deeply excited to bring a leading abolitionist scholar for the first time to Scotland,” said one of Brown’s sponsors. “This movement is of urgent interest in Scotland as the country and university confronts its historical ties to slavery and its current excessive use of punishment."


Her outreach at the University of Glasgow’s School of Social and Political Sciences will focus on sensory criminology, transformative justice and trans-Atlantic abolition movements, and anti-prison work and freedom-making practices in Scotland and the UK. Additionally, Brown will also be attending the Law & Society conference in Lisbon. 


“We are so proud of the international reputation Michelle has made for herself as one of the world's leading critical criminologists,” said Stephanie Bohon, professor and head of the UT Department of Sociology. 


While in Scotland, Brown plans to go hiking, explore the music scene, and visit the Highland mountains. In the future she hopes to be able to be in Scotland for a full year and explore all it has to offer for criminology. 


“For me, it is not just about my work, but the cumulative work of trusting what we do in class and with our research at a university that can have these ripple effects that add up to something much larger than me,” Brown said. “I love those moments.”


-Story by Leah Carter

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