Geoff Ward

Geoff Ward

Associate Professor and Associate Chair
African and African-American Studies, Faculty Affiliate in American Culture Studies and Sociology
PHD, University of Michigan
BA, Hampton University
research interests:
  • Legacies of Racial Violence
  • Representative Social Control
  • Youth Justice

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1109
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Geoff Ward’s scholarship examines racial politics of social control, and the pursuit of racial justice, historically and today.

Geoff Ward is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of African and African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is also a faculty affiliate in the Department of Sociology and American Culture Studies. His scholarship examines the racial politics of social control and the pursuit of racial justice, historically and today. His work appears in numerous academic journals and anthologies, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the Ford Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. In addition to numerous research articles and essays, he is the author of The Black Child-Savers: Racial Democracy and Juvenile Justice (University of Chicago Press, 2012), an award-winning book on the rise, fall, and haunting remnants of Jim Crow juvenile justice. His current projects examine histories of racial violence, their legacies, and implications for repair. These include the The Racial Violence Archive, a digital resource for research, teaching, and engagement, and the exhibition Truths and Reckonings: The Art of Transformative Racial Justice,” a teaching gallery opening at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in Spring 2020. 
 


Recent publications:

Geoff Ward, Nick Petersen, Aaron Kupchik, and James Pratt (forthcoming). "Historic Lynching and Corporal Punishment in Contemporary Southern Schools." Social Problems

David Cunningham, Geoff Ward and Peter Owens (forthcoming). "Configuring Political Repression: Anti-Civil Rights Enforcement in Mississippi." Mobilization: An International Quarterly

Pérez, R. and Ward, G. (2019). "From Insult to Estrangement and Injury: The Violence of Racist Police Jokes." American Behavioral Scientist, 0002764219842617. LINK

Ward, G. (2018). "Living Histories of White Supremacist Policing," Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 15(1). LINK

Ward, G. and P. Hanink (2017). "Deliberating Racial Justice: Towards Racially Democratic Crime Control." In J. Jackson and J. Jacobs (eds.), Handbook of Criminal Justice Ethics. New York: Routledge. LINK

Ward, G. (2016). "Microclimates of Racial Meaning: Historical Racial Violence and Environmental Impacts." Wisconsin Law Review, 575. LINK
 


Spring 2020 Art Exhibit

Truths & Reckonings: The Art of Transformative Racial Justice 
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis
February 7, 2020 - April 19, 2020

A teaching gallery exploring the roles of art works and art spaces in addressing histories of racial violence and their legacies. The exhibit supplements the Fall 2019 course, Histories of Racial Violence, Legacies, and Reckonings, and is open to the public. For more details, visit: 
AFAS event page
Kemper Museum 

recent courses

Histories of Racial Violence, Legacies, and Reckonings

This course examines legacies of historical racial violence and contemporary reckoning efforts, with emphasis on the African American experience. The course combines seminar readings, discussion and academic writing on legacies of racial violence with a practicum component, where individual students and groups of students and faculty conceptualize and develop projects intended to clarify and disrupt legacies of racial violence, facilitating contemporary reckoning. The seminar and practicum explores and encourages a broad range of remedial efforts, including public policy measures, original research, archival development, commemorative efforts, and a related array of mediums, including visual art, design, film, digital projects, and other creative interventions.

    Black Youth Justice

    This course examines the socio-legal past, present, and future of American juvenile justice, with a focus on the black experience. The course is organized in three parts. Part I surveys the late 19th and early 20th century development of the "parental state," its institutional centerpiece (the juvenile court), and principle legal subjects ("dependents" and "delinquents"), as these took shape alongside the contemporaneous rise of 20th century American Apartheid (i.e., Jim Crow). Part II examines key changes and challenges in contemporary juvenile justice, centering transformations of this institution in the wake of the black freedom movement, and remnants of Jim Crow juvenile justice in the post-Civil Rights Movement period. Finally, Part III considers possible futures of youth justice, and practical strategies for achieving equal protection within and beyond law.

      Intellectual History of Mass Incarceration

      This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to the intellectual history of the modern-day prison. What historical shifts, political logics, and ideological developments led to the phenomenon we have come to know as "mass incarceration"? How did the carceral logic that informs the seemingly inevitable contemporary connection between crime and punishment evolve in the West? Our topics will include influential theories that defined the physical space of the prison, the criminalization of marginalized populations, the emergence of theories and categories of deviance, and the development of criminology as an academic discipline.