I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Berkeley. I am interested in social theory, political sociology, law, punishment and inequality, race and ethnicity, and work. My research examines dimensions of legal and penal power to probe their relationship to political authority, violence and inequality in global and historical perspective.
My first book project (Public Defenders At Work: Challenging and Legitimizing State Violence in Brazil’s Penal Courts), examines a taken-for-granted actor in many of today’s courtrooms: legal aid professionals who counsel poor people facing state prosecution. I investigate the trajectories, motivations and workday world of public defenders who provide legal counsel to poor people in the penal courts of two cities (Salvador and São Paulo)--amid broader processes of democratization, state-building, and the most dramatic transformation in Brazil’s penal procedures in two centuries. Analyzing multiple data sources collected during 36 months of field research, I examine these contrasting sites to elaborate the forces that shape legal aid professionals' relationship to inequality, racialized violence and state transformation.
In another project, I analyze a dramatic initiative in Brazil's Espírito Santo State to modernize carceral administration. My analysis of this case spotlights the significance of bureaucratization, and the coercive and performative dimensions of this process, to naturalizing incarceration as a legitimate and legitimizing function of state power in the eyes of influential segments of the populace.
My research has been published in the American Sociological Review and other venues, and supported by the Social Science Research Council, U.S. Fulbright, the Mellon Foundation, and several UC-Berkeley institutes and centers.