Nov 03

Towards Justice and Holistic Health


  • Zakiya Luna

    Washington University in St. Louis

    I am a Dean's Distinguished Professorial Scholar in the Department of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. My research is in the areas of social change, sociology of law, health and inequality. Specifically, I am interested in social movements, human rights and reproduction with an emphasis on the effects of intersecting inequalities within and across these sites.

    I recently published Reproductive Rights as Human Rights: Women of Color and the Fight for Reproductive Justice , which was named by Oprah Daily as one of the "The 12 Books You Need to Read Post the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade Smackdown." I also co-edited , Black Feminist Sociology: Perspectives and Praxis with Whitney Pirtle . I was the lead author of the Reproductive Justice review article in the 2013 volume of the Annual Review of Law and Social Science. I am also co-creator and former co-editor of the University of California Press book series, Reproductive Justice: A New Vision for the 21st Century.

    I earned a joint PhD in Sociology and Women’s Studies from University of Michigan, where I also earned a Masters of Social Work. I was a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley affiliated with the Departments of Gender and Women's Studies, Sociology and the Center for the Study of Law and Society. I was hosted by the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice at Berkeley Law, which I accidentally helped co-found (long story). Prior to coming to WashU, I was also the Mellon Sawyer Seminar Human Rights Postdoc at University of Wisconsin, a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowand Associate Professor of Sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara (affiliated with Feminist Studies).

    I teach courses and the undergraduate and graduate level on social movements, intersectionality, and reproduction. I was a CoreAlign Generative Fellow (Blaze Cohort) and member of the Humane Resources Innovation Lab where my team focused on how reproductive justice movement organizations could be accountable to cultivating practices that recognize a person's whole self, in and beyond the workplaces, to help people thrive while sustaining the movement.

  • Steven William Thrasher

    Northwestern University

    Steven W. Thrasher is the inaugural Daniel H. Renberg Chair of social justice in reporting (with an emphasis on issues relevant to the LGBTQ community) and an assistant professor of journalism.

    Thrasher has worked as writer-at-large at the Guardian, staff writer at the Village Voice, and facilitator for the NPR StoryCorps project. His articles are regularly published in the New York Times, BuzzFeed News, Esquire, the Nation, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Daily Beast. He’s also a former researcher for Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.”

    Thrasher will teach Medill courses in journalism at the graduate and undergraduate levels, as well as elective classes cross-listed with American Studies, African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies.

    In Ferguson the same week Michael Brown was killed in 2014, Thrasher has reported on the Black Lives Matter movement for five years. His research combines journalistic and ethnographic methods to study how racism, homophobia, policing, medicine, incarceration, culture, and health intersect.

    A scholar of the criminalization of HIV/AIDS, Thrasher’s work centers on marginalized populations. As a teacher, he encourages students to draw upon history, theory, culture, and reporting to critically read and create media narratives. Research and reporting areas include U.S. Civil Rights; international histories of LGBTQ and gender identities; social movements; court reporting; media frames; colonialism; critical race theory; queer methods; policing; art criticism; public health reporting; and HIV/AIDS history.

    Thrasher is a frequent guest on NPR, CNN, and Democracy Now. He has also lectured extensively at universities and cultural institutions internationally, including the San Francisco Public Library, the Schomburg Center in Harlem, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the American University of Beirut.

  • Dana-Ain Davis

    CUNY Graduate Center

    Dána-Ain Davis is Professor of Urban Studies and Anthropology. She is the director of the Center for the Study of Women and Society at the Graduate Center.

    In the last decade, Davis has focused her attention on reproduction, race and the technologies that assist in reproduction. She has written several articles addressing issues of reproduction and racism including, “The Politics of Reproduction: The Troubling Case of Nadya Suleman”; “Obstetric Racism: The Racial Politics of Pregnancy, Labor, and Birthing”; and “The Bone Collectors.”

    She is the author, co-author, or co-editor of five books, the most recent being Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birth. Reproductive Injustice received the 2020 Honorable Mention for the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing; was a finalist for the 2020 PROSE AWARD, given by the Association of American Publishers; and is listed as one of seven books on anti-racism in New York Magazine. In Reproductive Injustice, Davis examines medical racism in the lives of professional Black women who have given birth prematurely. The book shows that race confounds the perception that class is root of adverse birth outcomes and lifts up the role that birth workers—midwives, doulas, and birth advocates—play in addressing Black women’s birth outcomes.

    Additionally, Davis has published Battered Black Women and Welfare Reform: Between a Rock and Hard Place; Feminist Activist Ethnography: Counterpoints to Neoliberalism in North America with Christa Craven; Feminist Ethnography: Thinking Through Methodologies, Challenges and Possibilities with Christa Craven; Black Genders and Sexualities with Shaka McGlotten.

    Davis has been engaged in social justice, particularly reproductive justice over the last 30 years. She has worked with a number of national reproductive justice organizations; the New York City Department of Health’s Sexual and Reproductive Justice initiative; and Scholars for Social Justice. She served on the New York State Governor’s Task Force on Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes and currently serves on the Birth Equity Collaborative in San Francisco.

    Davis is the recipient of several awards the most recent being the Brocher Foundation Residency Fellowship in Switzerland (spring 2020) and the Association of Marquette University Women Chair in Humanistic Studies at Marquette University, in Wisconsin. She will assume the positon of Chair for the fall 2021 semester. Davis is also doula and co-founder of the “Art of Childbirth” which is a free birth education workshop that connects childbirth education and art.


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