SM Rodriguez joined the Department of Gender Studies as Assistant Professor of Gender, Rights and Human Rights in September 2021. Prior to this appointment, they were based in New York, USA, as Assistant Professor of Critical Criminology in the Department of Sociology and Director of LGBTQ+ Studies at Hofstra University. They also previously lectured in Sociology and Africana Studies at Stony Brook University and State University of New York – Old Westbury.
Broadly speaking, my research shows a concern for sex, racialisation and punishment. I take an anti-carceral, Black and trans feminist approach to interrogate sex as a projection unto the body and as an activity, especially as related to criminal law and “correctional” practices. I have navigated this line of questioning in global and transnational research, with particular attention to African Diasporic people and places.
My current research focuses on penal abolition as a global social movement. I look at the development of and practices that form transformative justice, with particular focus on the role of queer people of colour at the grassroots and scholar-activists in higher educational institutions. My in-progress monograph, Abolition in the Academy: The Role of Academia in the Growing Movement for Penal Abolition, relies on interviews of abolitionists in seven countries. In it, I explain how scholars develop and disseminate the abolitionist imagination. The AAUW American Postdoctoral Fellowship (2020-21) has recently supported my book writing.
In my first monograph, The Economies of Queer Inclusion: Transnational Organizing for LGBTI Rights in Uganda (2019), I analyse the effects of transnational advocacy on Ugandan LGBTI (kuchu) organising during the four-year period in which the Ugandan government considered the “Kill the Gays Bill”. I situate kuchu activism in the simultaneous navigation of domestic, anti-gay criminalisation and global inequalities reinforced by international human rights apparatuses. From my interviews of human rights organisations that funded initiatives in Uganda, I located crucial, counter-productive racial narratives that ascribed lower value to human rights work offered by “locals”. Additionally, I found the rapid factionalisation of human rights organising at the grassroots due to newfound, financially-inspired communal mistrust. Ultimately, I present case studies of queer, Africana campaigns that put forward healing, transformative alternatives to repair the unintended harms of state-based and human rights campaigning. The Economies of Queer Inclusion received an American Sociological Association Distinguished Book Award Honorable Mention (2021) and was funded by national and regional organisations.