- PhD The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Anthropology MLIS Palmer School of Library and Information Science, Archival StudiesBA Hampshire College, Interdisciplinary Studies
I am on leave during the 2020-2021 academic year while on fellowship at The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.
- As a social anthropologist working in the United States, my research examines the imbrication of grassroots resistance and state repression. Within this broad area of inquiry, my present work explores the collision of Black-led movements for social, political, and economic transformation with state infrastructures of militarized policing, surveillance, and imprisonment. I analyze the productivity of this collision; how it gives rise to new formations of knowledge, subjectivity, intimacy, gender, organization, and statecraft across time and space. I ask: how do Black radical demands generated within and against U.S. prisons presage alternative futures for people and places on both sides of prison walls? In what ways have state-organized responses to these demands - via diverse configurations of repression, reform, and incorporation – been key drivers of US historical development and state formation? Through what bureaucratic, ideological, and material processes is this dynamic political struggle transformed into an administrative problem of “criminal justice”? How can conceptualizing the US prison as a domain of war open new analytical, theoretical, and methodological terrain?
United States, race & racialization, crime & punishment, policing & security, social movements, Black studies, gender studies, war, ethnographic methods, archives
- Burton, Orisanmi. “When Lions Have Historians”: Black Political Literacy in the Carceral University." In Plantation Politics and Campus Rebellions: Power, Diversity, and the Emancipatory Struggle in Higher Education, edited by Bianca C Williams, Dian D. Squire and Frank A. Tuitt. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press, 2021.
- "Authority, Confinement, Solidarity, and Dissent," a discussion with Catherine Besteman, Karina Biondi, and Orisanmi Burton (2019). Speaking Justice to Power III. Polar: Political & Legal Anthropology Review. eBook.
- Burton, Orisanmi (2018). "Organized Disorder: The New York City Jail Rebellion of 1970." The Black Scholar, Vol. 48, No. 3.
- Burton, Orisanmi (2016). "To Protect and Serve Whiteness." North American Dialogue. Vol. 18, No. 2, p. 38 – 50.
- Burton, Orisanmi (2015). "Black Lives Matter: A Critique of Anthropology."Cultural Anthropology Online. #BlackLivesMatter: Anti-Black Racism, Police Violence, and Resistance.