A.B., Swarthmore College; Ph.D., Harvard University
Knafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences; Assistant Professor of American Studies
Qualitative sociologist with emphasis on race, gender, politics, identity, and popular culture.
I am broadly interested in the sociology of race and ethnicity, identity and politics, and popular culture. My new book, Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America, uses Obama-related topics to demonstrate how race relies on other social forces, like gender and class, for its meaning and impact. It features discussions of race and nationhood, discourses of "biracialism" and Obama's mixed heritage, the purported emergence of a "post-racial society," and popular symbols of Michelle Obama as a modern black woman.
I have also written widely on hip-hop music. My first book, Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop, puts the spotlight on hip-hop fans, as I document the ways everyday listeners define hip-hop and use it in their lives. Additional articles and essays include pieces about hip-hop feminism and representations of love in hip-hop performances.
At Wellesley, I teach Introduction to American Studies, as well as courses on race and politics, and the sociology of sports. I also teach advanced seminars for third- and fourth-year students on Barack Obama and hip-hop studies. I enjoy teaching students about the benefits of interdisciplinary learning, and helping them apply academic work to experiences and cultural events from their daily lives.
My non-academic writing has been published by The Atlantic and The Guardian, and you can follow me on Twitter @M_P_Jeffries.