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Theresa Rocha Beardall

Theresa Rocha Beardall is an Assistant Professor of Sociology, Criminology, and American Indian Studies at Virginia Tech. Her research examines how systems of law and agents of the state enforce various modes of violence, specializing in issues of race, policing, and social inequality. In one thread of this research, Theresa studies policing and police misconduct from a labor perspective, emphasizing the role of police as employees and community members as their employers. Her ongoing ethnographic research examines the interconnectedness of police unions and their labor contracts, citizen review boards, and the police work that predominates the work of municipal mayors, city councils, and finance staff. In a second thread, Theresa studies how the legal construction of tribal sovereignty has implications for the well-being of American Indian children and families. In new work, she draws from her theoretical contributions in both of these areas to address the intersection of sovereignty and policing for American Indians. Throughout, Theresa draws on the language and logics of legal contracts to better understand how social institutions manufacture marginalized populations, and centers the voices of those communities that continue to disproportionately experience, and actively resist, state violence. Theresa earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from Cornell University in 2019 and her J.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014. Her work can be found in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, the Nevada Law Journal, and the Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture, and Resistance.

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