Amber J Powell

Amber is a Sociology PhD Candidate at the University of Minnesota and an American Bar Fellow National Science Foundation Law & Inequality Fellow and Ruth Peterson Fellow. Her research and teaching commitments include the sociology of law, crime, punishment, race, and gender-based violence. She is also a former sexual assault victim advocate (Milwaukee) court-watcher (Minneapolis). Her work has been featured in Gender & Society, with forthcoming publications in Law & Society Review, and the American Journal of Sociology. Amber's dissertation explores how formerly incarcerated survivors, sexual assault advocates, social workers, attorneys, PREA personnel and anti-prison rape advocates make sense of sexual victimization within youth confinement facilities. Her prior research (with Heather Hlavka and Sameena Mulla) draws on ethnographic observations to examine how legal actors construct narratives of credibility in child sexual assault jury trials across systems of race, gender, age, and sexuality. She has also worked with Michelle Phelps and Christopher Robertson, exploring how North Minneapolis residents, activists, and law enforcement officials understand policing, police reform, transformation, and abolition.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • BS: Criminology & Law Studies, Marquette University , Milwaukee, 2015.
  • M.A.: Sociology, University of Minnesota, Minnesota, 2018.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Law, Crime & Punishment
  • Violence & Victimization
  • Black Feminist Theory
  • Critical Race Feminist Theory
  • Transformative justice and community accountability
Courses Taught
  • Sociological Perspectives on Race, Class, & Gender
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • American Bar Foundation Fellow: September 2020 - September 2022
  • Ruth Peterson Fellow (American Society of Criminology): 2020 - 2021


  • Department Development Committee of the President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct. Minneapolis, MN. University of Minnesota.: March 2018
  • Sexual Assault Survivor Advocate - Aurora Sinai: 2013 - 2015
  • Powell, Amber Joy and Michelle Phelps. 2020. "Gendered Racial Vulnerability: How Women Confront Crime and Criminalization." Law & Society Review 55(3): 429-451.
  • Intersectionality and Credibility in Child Sexual Assault Trials: Powell, Amber, Heather Hlavka; Sameena Mulla, Gender & Society, 31(4) 457-480, 2017. Link
  • Book Review: Jennifer Cobbina, Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Why the Protests in Ferguson and Baltimore Matter and How they Changed America: Powell, Amber, Punishment & Society, 1-3, 2020. Link
  • Savelsberg, Joachim and Amber Joy Powell. 2020. “Political Systems and the Carceral State,” in Handbook of Political Sociology, 2nd edition, edited by Thomas Janoski, Isaac Martin, Joya Misra, and Cedric De Leon. Cambridge University Press.
  • American Bar Foundation Law & Inequality Fellow, September 2020 - September 2022
  • Ruth Peterson Program Fellow, 2020 - 2021
  • Anna Welsch Bright Research Award, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota. $2,000, 2019 - 2020
  • Beverly and Richard Fink Summer Fellowship ($4,000), 2016 - 2020
  • Ford Predoctoral Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2017