Keenoa Harris, MA in Applied Women's Studies, 2012
Keeonna Harris is a Ph.D. Student in Justice Studies at Arizona State University whose research interests include Black Women, Incarceration and Mothering. My research gives voice to the women and the children that are the collateral damage of mass incarceration. I have chosen to focus my research on women whose husbands are incarcerated in order to give voice to this silenced population. By simultaneously criminalizing the bodies of these women, the criminal justice system erases their voices and commits violence against them and their families. These families are, by extension, also serving out a sentence. Whether it is reinforced through a legal standpoint or through cultural stereotypes, this community is hyper-stigmatized. These woman learn to live in two, juxtaposed worlds: the prison and the free world. The aim of her research is to strategically evoke a new framework to discuss mothering, intimate relationships, and the context of family while living in the borderlands of the criminal justice system. Further her research project will explore the historical relationship between unfreedom and criminalization by extension of an incarcerated partner. In addition to her academic endeavors, she has been actively involved in community efforts supporting the empowerment of women. She is currently a facilitator for Humanities Behind the Walls at Perryville State Prison for Women in Arizona. Humanities Behind the Walls (HBW) is convened/organized on the basic principle that we all share responsibility for rebuilding our communities through purposeful productive activity that focuses on healthy growth, learning and creativity. All HBW seminars focus on fostering academic motivation while engaging participants to re-think, elevate, and re-set personal goals to enhance the possibility for a healthy and dignified re-entry into society. HBW centers learning and ways of knowing grounded in experience and reflection about survival. HBW critically engages the humanistic and humanizing potential in acts of reading, discussing and creating literature, poetry and performance art. HBW encourages each participant to view their life experiences within a larger framework in order to eventually overcome personal fears, uncertainties, and social pressures that often frustrate the accomplishment of educational goals and civic engagement. Motivated by a commitment to make change in a world that has failed to understand the needs of women of color, her work continues to ask the question: can the world exists without prisons? These activities bring together her academic and activist work, a dream fulfilled!
B.A., Sociology, Minor in Women’s Studies, San Bernardino, California, California State University San Bernardino 2009
M.A., Women’s Studies, Claremont, California, Claremont Graduate University 2012
Ph.D., Justice Studies, Tempe, Arizona, Arizona State University (In Progress)
Teaching Assistant, Justice Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 2013
Innovative Challenge Grant Proposal Finalist: The Three Sisters, a gardening-based women’s re-entry program relying on a holistic healing approach instead of concentrating on punishment, but on personal sustainability and human flourishing.
Chief Deputy District Attorney’s Office of San Bernardino County, Victorville, California 2011
A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project, Los Angeles, California 2010