Laura McTighe is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University (M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School, B.A. Haverford College). Her research examines the intersections of race, religion, gender, and activism, with particular attention to the carceral state, domestic land grabs, and disaster capitalism. Through interdisciplinary and community-based methods, she centers the often-hidden histories, practices, and geographies of struggle in America’s zones of abandonment, and asks how visions for living otherwise become actionable. Her dissertation, “‘This Day, We Use Our Energy for Revolution’: Black Feminist Ethics of Survival, Struggle, and Renewal in the new New Orleans”, is a collaborative ethnography of activist persistence, which she has conceptualized, researched, and written alongside the leaders of Women With A Vision, Inc. (WWAV), a quarter-century old, black women-led health and social justice organization. Grounded in eighteen months of fieldwork and nearly a decade of engaged partnership, this research has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Institute for Religion, Culture, & Public Life, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation’s Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.
Laura comes to her doctoral studies through almost twenty years of direct work to end criminalization and advance community-led healing through service, advocacy, and research. She is the co-founder of the Institute for Community Justice, the Religion and Incarceration forum, and the community-based Front Porch Research Strategy. She is also a Board Member at Men & Women In Prison Ministries in Chicago and Reconstruction Inc. in Philadelphia. Her writings have been published in Beyond Walls and Cages: Bridging Immigrant Justice and Anti-Prison Organizing in the United States (2012), the International Journal for Law and Psychiatry (2011), Islam and AIDS: Between Scorn, Pity and Justice (2009), The Revealer, and a variety of community publications.Click here to download Laura’s abbreviated C.V.