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I specialize in United States political and social history after World War II. My research explores the ways that politics and public policy intersect with gender, race and class inequality. I am particularly interested in how social movements, electoral politics and the administration of government services have helped shape notions of state responsibility for social problems.
My first book, Getting Tough: Welfare and Imprisonment in 1970s America, chronicles efforts during the 1970s to enact "tough" welfare, drug, and anti-crime laws. It examines how the unprecedented growth of the penal system and the retrenchment of the nation’s welfare programs developed hand in hand, animated by struggles over how to interpret and respond to the inequality and disorder that crested during the period.
- “Welfare Crises, Penal Solutions, and the Origins of the ‘Welfare Queen,’” Journal of Urban History 41, no. 5 (September 2015): 756–71.
- “Guns and Butter: The Welfare State, the Carceral State, and the Politics of Exclusion in Postwar United States History,” Journal of American History 102, no. 1 (June 2015): 87–99.
- “‘The Attila the Hun Law’: New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Making of a Punitive State,” Journal of Social History (September 2010): 71-96.
- “Militarizing the Police: Officer Jon Burge’s Torture and Repression in the ‘Urban Jungle’,” in Stephen Hartnett, ed., Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex: Activism, Arts, and Educational Alternatives (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, December 2010), 43-71.
- “‘The Crime of Survival’: Fraud Prosecutions, Community Surveillance, and the Original ‘Welfare Queen,’” Journal of Social History (Winter 2007): 329-354.