Vesla Weaver

I joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, where I am the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology. I am a faculty affiliate of the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an Inequality Research Fellow at the Lipman Center for Journalism on Civil and Human Rights, and serve on the Board of Directors of the Annual Reviews.  I received my PhD in Government and Social Policy from the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality at Harvard University.

I write about race, power, and political life.  My research pioneers 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. My books include Arresting Citizenship and Creating a New Racial Order.  

I am currently working on my next book, The State From Below: Racial Authoritarianism in US Democracy, which 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. I am also co-directing the American Prison Writing Archive, the largest and first fully searchable digital archive of essays written inside confinement in four hundred prison and jail facilities.  Such projects unite a concern with positioning the unfree as central theorists of democracy.

My research has been supported by fellowships from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation (2017 fellow), the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Brookings Institution, and owe my beginnings as a political scientist to the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute. I have written in the New York TimesWashington PostBoston Review, and Marshall Project, among others.  And I take an active role in public debates about what it might mean to construct public space focused on civic health rather than surveillance. 


Download a copy of my latest CV.

Scheduling Inquiries & Event Invitations

Please email Jazmine E. Biggs, Sr. Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships Program Coordinator, at jbiggs6@jh.edu.