Sam’s dissertation, Carceral Logics: Race, Responsibility, and Family in a San Francisco Jail, is one of the only ‘prison ethnographies’ to have been conducted in the US in half a century. Sam’s work investigates the intersection of anti-blackness, responsibility, kinship, and carcerality and emerges from 3 years of ethnographic research with incarcerated people and the families of incarcerated people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Approaching incarceration from the perspective of families with incarcerated members de-centers the presumptively male subject of carceral violence and instead shows us the networks through which penal harm are transmitted across intimate relationships and broader communities. It also highlights the ways that discourses of family failure and dysfunction, ubiquitous in the criminal justice system, have positioned black families as responsible for the incarceration of their own kin.
His commitments to abolitionist movements ground Sam’s work. Originally from the UK, Sam studied anthropology at UCL before moving to the US to complete his dissertation at Stanford.
An experienced teacher and organizer, his work has been supported by the Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Wenner Gren Foundation, and others.