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Samuel Maull

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Samuel Maull

Dissertation Writer
Research Interests: 
Race and place, Blackness, Criminal Justice, Mass Incarceration, Jails, Responsibility, Guilt and Innocence, Cycle of Poverty, Cycle of Incarceration, Intervention, Affect, Violence, Temporality


Sam Maull completed his undergraduate degree in Anthropology in UCL before leaving the UK to come to Stanford. Initially he studied evolutionary anthropology but switched to social and cultural anthropology after the first year. As a British anthropologist he is, of course, interested in kinship and has conducted 3 years of ethnographic fieldwork into the familial elements of mass incarceration. His fieldwork has all been based in and around the San Francisco Bay Area and was particularly focused on one San Francisco County Jail. Very shortly into his fieldwork, Sam came to realize that race was not just one factor among others in his field site but the keystone to understanding its organization. From this perspective Sam has reached outside anthropology, particularly into the fields of critical criminology and Black cultural theory, to analyze the role of anti-blackness in criminal justice and American society more generally. His dissertation, currently titled “Fault Lines: Family, Responsibility, and Race in a San Francisco County Jail” explores themes such as: the cycle of incarceration/poverty/crime; guilt, innocence, and criminal responsibility; intergenerational trauma; state intervention; and prison abolition. His research focuses on the construction of mutually imbricated concepts of race, family, and responsibility in criminal justice (both the formal court system and the informal governance in the jail). He explores the ways in which the criminal justice system (prison industrial complex) recognizes and affirms some forms of intimacy, while suppressing, punishing, and pathologizing others. By focusing on this intimate work, often overlooked in scholarship on mass incarceration, he aims to map the material conditions under which racial and gendered violence are reproduced. Sam draws on/from fields of ethical/moral anthropology, kinship studies, legal anthropology, medical anthropology, Afro pessimism, Black existentialism, critical criminology, affect theory, and queer and feminist anti-social theories, and Political Economy (specifically autonomism) to inform his work.