Dissertation Defense: From PhD Candidate to Dr. Jessica Katzenstein

In Spring 2022, Jessica Katzenstein and three other Anthropology PhD Candidates successfully defended their dissertations. In this spotlight interview, Jessica delves into her research topic and explains more about her dissertation.

"My dissertation is an ethnography of policing in Maryland that examines why U.S. police reforms fail to realize their promises to curb racialized violence. The research explores how police officers absorb and resist reforms during a mounting legitimacy crisis, and how the everyday labor of policing produces a "police common sense" that translates reform efforts into police terms. Marrying the insights of critical race studies and American studies with the anthropology of labor, ethics, and the state, my dissertation examines how the everyday labor of policing renders reform into a kind of productive failure. 

This project draws on 16 months of fieldwork with police and reformers in Maryland, including during the first year of the Baltimore Police Department's consent decree. My interest in reformism emerged from observing this momentous reform process unfold amidst a decade-long BPD corruption scandal and ongoing anti-Black police violence.  

Before joining Brown in 2014, I received a BA from Washington University in St. Louis."

Parsa Bastani, Lauren Deal, and Anar Parikh also defended their dissertations in Spring 2022. For more information and to view their spotlight interviews, please visit Anthropology's Instagram page