Amber J Powell

Amber Joy is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. She is also a former Sexual Assault Survivor Advocate volunteer in Milwaukee, WI. Her work examines how law, punishment, and violence impacts communities of color, broadly engaging with Critical Legal & Critical Race Feminist Theory. 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. As the 2020-2022 American Bar Foundation Law & Inequality Fellow and Ruth Peterson Fellow, her dissertation explores how formerly incarcerated survivors, sexual assault advocates, social workers, attorneys, and activists interpret sexual victimization in youth confinement. Amber Joy is also a regular contributor to The Society Pages, writing on a range of topics including sexual assault, prisoner reentry, and racial disparities. You can find her work in Gender & Society, The New Handbook of Political Sociology, and The Encyclopedia of Crime, Law Enforcement, Courts, and Corrections.

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
  • Transformative justice and community accountability
  • Critical Race Feminist Theory
  • Black Feminist Theory
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
  • 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.
  • Intersectionality and Credibility in Child Sexual Assault Trials: Powell, Amber, Heather Hlavka; Sameena Mulla, Gender & Society, 31(4) 457-480, 2017. Link
  • 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