Vesla Weaver

Vesla Weaver

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Governance Studies

Vesla Mae Weaver serves as the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Johns Hopkins University and faculty affiliate of the Justice Collaboratory at Yale University. A scholar of American politics, she writes about race, power, and political life. Weaver has produced leading scholarship and pioneered concepts to understand the role of incarceration and policing in race-class subjugated communities and the development and consequences of coercive institutions in American democracy. Weaver’s books include Arresting Citizenship and Creating a New Racial Order. Her next book, The State From Below: Racial Authoritarianism in US Democracy, amasses the most extensive collection of first-hand accounts of the police—by those who are policed—to date, using a new civic infrastructure called Portals. She co-directs the American Prison Writing Archive, the largest and first fully searchable digital archive of imprisoned people writing about their experience inside confinement in four hundred prison and jail facilities. Such projects unite a concern with positioning the unfree as central theorists of democracy. Weaver’s research has been supported by fellowships from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation (2017 fellow), Russell Sage Foundation, National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Brookings Institution, and owes her beginnings as a political scientist to the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute. She has written in the New York TimesWashington Post, Boston ReviewMarshall Project, and Slate, among others. And she takes an active role in public debates about what it might mean to construct public space focused on civic health rather than surveillance.

A list of Weaver’s notable publications include:

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Citizenship, Power, and Race-Class Subjugation
    • Politics of Coercive Institutions in Nominally Democratic States
    • Policing, Incarceration and State/Citizen Relations
    • Colorism and Intra-Racial Inequality
    • Using Bottom-Up Accounts of Political Life to Theorize Democracy, Racial Hierarchy, and Resistance
  • Current Positions

    • Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
  • Past Positions

    • Associate Professor, Political Science and African American Studies; Yale University
    • Founding Director, ISPS Center for the Study of Inequality, Yale University
    • Assistant Professor, Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and Miller Center of Public Affairs; University of Virginia
    • Nonresident Senior Fellow, Governance Studies; The Brookings Institution
  • Education

    • Ph.D. in Political Science, Harvard University
    • B.A. in Government, University of Virginia
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