Judith Rollins

Professor Emerita of Africana Studies


Sociologist with a focus on social psychology; women’s studies; and the intersection of gender, race and class.

Dr. Rollins’ research has focused on the social psychology of domination; women (in the U.S. and Caribbean); the intersection of gender, race and class; and the Civil Rights Movement. Her 1985 ethnographic study, Between Women: Domestics and Their Employers, received the Jessie Bernard Award of the American Sociological Association for its contribution to women’s studies and has become a classic in the field. Her 1995 book, All is Never Said: The Narrative of Odette Harper Hines, is an oral history of the life of the woman who housed her and other civil rights workers in Alexandria, Louisiana in the ‘60s. And her 2010 book, Voices of Concern: Nevisian Women’s Issues at the Turn of the 21st Century, explores recent changes in the lives of women on the small Caribbean island and the causes of those changes, especially the effects of globalization. (Dr. Rollins’ research on women in the Caribbean is ongoing, now focusing on a village on the island of St. Lucia.) In addition, Dr. Rollins has published numerous articles on such topics as the American Women’s Movement; the Civil Rights Movement; and the dialectics of domination in the writings of Hegel, Nietzsche and Fanon.

Prior to joining the Wellesley faculty, Dr. Rollins taught sociology at Simmons College, Boston College and the University of the District of Columbia. She has taught Social Psychology, Urban Sociology (including pre-industrial cities and urbanization in the developing world), Social Problems, Introduction to Women’s Studies, Women in Social Movements, Cross-Cultural Domestic Service, African-American Sociology, African-American Feminism, Women in the Civil Rights Movement, and Women in the Caribbean. In addition, Dr. Rollins co-directed two international wintersessions: to Cuba in 2002 and Ghana in 2005. Both courses focused on women as well as other topics (‘race and cultural expression’ in Cuba and ‘spirituality and culture’ in Ghana). Directly related to her teaching was her chairing of Wellesley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Committee from 1999 to 2008. During that time, the Committee hosted a series of events - including a panel on reparations; a three-day documentary festival related to the war in Iraq; speakers such as Angela Davis, Julian Bond, and Harry Belafonte - designed to bring diverse political perspectives on contemporary issues to those in and nearby the Wellesley College community.

Dr. Rollins continues to be involved in both her sociological work and her activism. In 2008-09, she served as president of the Association of Black Sociologists, the largest organization in the U.S. of sociologists with an interest in the Africana world and/or of African descent. In 2013-14, she was a member of the Louisiana CORE Legacy Committee, a group of former civil rights workers who organized a Freedom Summer 50th anniversary commemoration, which took place in New Orleans in June 2014. In July, Dr. Rollins gave a paper on the social psychology of domination at the XVIII World Congress of the International Sociological Association in Yokohama, Japan. And in October 2014, she took part in the “Justice in the Home: Domestic Work - Past, Present and Future” conference, organized by the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Center for Research on Women at Barnard College, New York.