Dr. Tamanika Ferguson
Gender and Carcerality Scholar, Black Feminist-Womanist, Justice-Oriented Ethnographer,
Humanistic Social Scientist, College Professor, Professional Writer, Mentor,
First Generation and Non Traditional Ph.D., and Wellness Warrior
In this space, you will learn about my research, projects, and teaching
Getting To Know Me
I am a proud first-generation and non-traditional scholar from sunny southern California. I earned a doctorate in Communication, Culture, and Media Studies with a joint graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, DC. I also have a MSa in Africana Studies and Sociology and BSa degree in Africana Studies from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
Like all career scholars, I am working on my craft as a researcher, opinion leader, author, and teacher. I love ideas. I love to unpack ideas and create a body of work that will contribute to the fields of feminist and carceral studies and most importantly, I want my work and ideas to have a meaningful impact on the world.
Currently, I am situated at Allegheny College where I cut my teeth as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. My forthcoming solo authored book, Voices from The Inside: Incarcerated Women Speak, is an ethnographic case study documenting a history of resistance, advocacy, and activism in women’s prisons in California.
I was trained in the yoga tradition and have been a yoga and meditation practitioner for over ten years. These experiences have afforded me the opportunity to integrate meditation and mindfulness techniques into my teaching. As I continue to grow and evolve, I envision being in spaces where I can use my gifts and talents to serve others. I want to be in spaces where people would feel blessed to have me in their presence.
I prioritize fun, joy, and rest. In my personal life, I enjoy off the beaten path travel, cultural immersion trips, photography 📷adventure sports, karaoke🎤dancing, bonding with family and friends and flirting with social media @wmnstudischolar (Twitter)
Current book project was supported by the American Association of University Women (AAUW),
the Organization for Research on Women and Communication (ORWAC) and the University of Maryland.
Prison Abolition in Practice: Politics of Care, Justice, and Resistance
This article in the works is grounded in feminist standpoint epistemology and abolition feminism to examine how women’s agency and resistance are expressed as a practice of abolition, including a politics of collective love and care, personal justice, and spiritual resilience. As members of historically minoritized and oppressed communities, incarcerated women in California seek to articulate and share their experiences and critical perspectives in order to engender change in their own lives and the lives of those in the prison community. The forms of care, personal justice, and prison abolition practices call attention to the spirituality of politics and resistance, indicating that the struggles of survival and freedom in women’s prisons are grounded in a spiritually informed vision for personal and social transformation. As such, imprisoned advocates are redefining and demonstrating what it means to embody the practice of social and political freedom.
Building A Movement: Incarcerated Women and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners
This article in the works traces the historical development of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, its grassroots feminist politics, and the central role of its women-controlled newsletter as a historical record of the political activities and ideas of incarcerated women and as an alternative feminist discourse for understanding the implications of freedom, allowing incarcerated women to carve out space for their advocacy and visions for change.
VOICES FROM THE INSIDE: INCARCERATED WOMEN SPEAK is based on 10 years of ethnographic research. This work focuses on how incarcerated women navigate the dynamics of violence and abuse in California prisons and jails – a progressive state that has a reputation for incarcerating more people in the United States than any other state except Texas and ranks at the top of human rights violations in women’s prisons. I am using this work to examine how emancipatory media projects supported by The California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) empower women to tell their stories, advocate for themselves, and share strategies of resistance. By bringing a feminist perspective to how an unlikely community of women and their allies develop and disseminate communal projects of resistance and organizing, my work sheds light on novel strategies taken up by women through processes of collectivity and solidarity that oftentimes are invisible or ignored. Furthermore, this project informs a theory of change in fundamental and critical ways by demonstrating that change starts with system-changing work led by those directly affected by the criminal legal system.
For more information about the California Coalition for Women Prisoners or to get involved, please click here.
In order to change the world, you have to begin to imagine it differently, and for a lot of young people, part of seeing themselves in that narrative of social change, begins with that process of imagination -- Rogelio Lopez
PEDAGOGY, TEACHING, MENTORING
I consider the classroom a small community of intellectual engagement in which I empower, mentor, and advise students. My pedagogy and praxis is to develop and prepare students to engender equity and justice-minded worldviews, identify sociological ways of thinking, and see themselves as part of a broader community of change agents working for a more egalitarian and just society. My humanistic pedagogy is informed by my African American heritage, key life events, traveling and living abroad, engaging with different cultures, having a broad frame of reference or understanding social problems in the U.S. and in the broader diaspora, and working with a diverse student population in academic and nonacademic spaces. These disparate experiences affords me the opportunity to incorporate gender and multicultural issues in appropriate ways into my humanistic pedagogy. My courses and teaching methods empower students to engage in self-reflection about their own positionalities, strengths, and capacities as leaders, and how all of this influences their career paths. Lastly, my teaching methods empower students to re-conceptualize the world they want to see in the future and how ultimately these visions can inform real action.
I loved and cherished this class, the experiences I've had, the lessons I have learned and the endless wisdom and knowledge I will take from this course into my future experiences. Thank you so much for all the work you have put in for us. You are an incredible professor who shows utmost professionalism, care, and passion about the topics you've introduced.
~~ Riley Pegher, WGSS Major, Spring 2023
My experience in WGSS has been nothing short of impactful, enlightening, fun, and productive. I chose these words because they truly embody my experience learning about the prison system and how society operates. Professor Ferguson always came in ready to and wanting to teach but acknowledged that the material could be heavy; thus, she would have us take a deep breath and center ourselves again.
~~ Maya Francisco, Community and Justice Studies, Spring 2023
The experience of being in an active classroom, discussing contemporary topics, and leaving with being seen and heard by my professor and peers was empowering. This class challenged me to bring ideas of WGSS into my other classes looking at things from a unique perspective. Through Dr. Ferguson's support, passion, and commitment to the topic and students created a welcoming environment.
~~ Skye-Lee, Lyons, Theater, Freshman, Spring, 2023
Selected Writings, Talks & Accolades
Works in Public Scholarship
Ferguson, T. (2022) “Abortion Rights Movement Must Include Incarcerated People.” https://progressive.org/op-eds/abortion-rights-include-incarcerated-people-ferguson-220720/
Ferguson, T. (2022) “Building “Feminist Jails” Ignores a Larger Problem.” https://truthout.org/articles/building-feminist-jails-ignores-a-larger-problem/
Scholar-Advocate -in-Residence, Project on Public Leadership and Action (PPLA), Wellesley College, 2023
“Incarcerated Women and Media Activism.” Race, Equity, and Justice Conversation Series with Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill, Arts & Humanities, University of Maryland, 2020
American Association of University Women, American Fellowship (2021-2022)
President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Maryland
Outright Book Grant, First Gen Program, University of California Press, 2023
Demmler Innovation in Teaching and Curriculum, Allegheny College, 2023
Conference Travel Grant, National Women’s Studies Association, 2022
Research Development Grant, Organization for Feminist Research on Gender and Communication, 2021
Arts and Humanities Faculty Funds, Innovation Grant, University of Maryland, 2020
Click here to view my CV
Stay in the Know
Abolition. Feminism. Now.
Black Women's Liberatory Pedagogies: Resistance, Transformation, and Healing Within and Beyond the Academy
The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness
The New Jim Crow
Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and The Politics of Empowerment
Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color
Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement
Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story
Black Women's Yoga History: Memoirs of Inner Peace