Politics Ph.D. Program Alum Named Assistant Professor at Vassar College

November 15, 2018

By Lorato Anderson 

Photo credit: Karl Rabe/Vassar College

Jasmine Syedullah, a Politics doctoral program alum, will be joining the Vassar College faculty as an assistant professor in Africana Studies with a focus in Prison Studies in Fall 2019. This position is only the second 100% interdisciplinary faculty line in the campus’s history, and the first one in Africana Studies.

Dr. Syedullah is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in Sociology at Vassar College. She holds a Ph.D. in Politics with a designated emphasis in Feminist Studies and History of Consciousness from UC Santa Cruz, as well as a B.A. from Brown University in Religious Studies with a focus in Buddhist Philosophy. While in the Politics doctoral program, she wrote her dissertation “Is This Freedom?”: A Political Theory of Harriet Jacobs’s Loopholes of Emancipation, theorizing Harriet Jacobs’s politics of abolitionist emancipation as a loophole in modern theories of freedom.

Dr. Syedullah is a black feminist political theorist of abolition, as well as co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation (North Atlantic Books, 2016). Her research brings a black feminist approach to questions of political theory to ask how the carceral logics of modern freedom are challenged by captive black women's demands for abolition. She roots her black feminist theory of abolition in the nineteenth century writings of antislavery abolitionist Harriet Jacobs, namely the implications of her initial escape from slavery documented in her 1861 slave narrative to the tiny garret space she refers to as her “loophole of retreat.” With Jacobs as its foundation, her current book project, If Home Were a Loophole: Fugitives of Domestic Violence and the Unfinished Work of Abolition, brings nineteenth together with twentieth century abolitionist struggles against slavery and incarceration to better understand how women's defense against the surveillance, policing, detention, criminalization, and punishment of everyday practices of self-making pose challenges to the kinds of relationships to racial capitalism by which they are bound.