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Dr. Tamanika Ferguson

Justice-oriented ethnographer, advocate and scholar of women and incarceration, social movements, political communication, media activism, carceral justice, prison reform, public policy, race, gender and class, and critical & feminist theory


Grant Researcher and Writer


In this space, you will learn about my research, teaching, and projects, and evolving worldviews

on life, culture, research, writing, and career development.



Getting To Know Me

I am a first-generation college graduate and non-traditional Ph.D. 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 academics, I am working on my craft as a researcher, public intellectual, author, and teacher. I love ideas. I love to unpack ideas and create a body of work that will contribute to the fields of women's, gender, and sexuality studies and most importantly, I want my work and ideas to have a meaningful impact on the world. 

Currently, I am a Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Allegheny College with a focus on teaching foundational and social activism courses. I am currently working on a book and several journal articles with a focus on centering the grassroots and abolition politics and work of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and the theoretical and policy implications of incarcerated women’s social and intellectual thought, advocacy, and prison activism.

I am a yoga and wellness practitioner with a passion for empowering people to create more meaningful lives. My vision is to work with grassroots organizations that empower people through spiritual practices and social activism to develop a critical sense of agency, resilience, and purpose. 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.

In my personal life, I enjoy cultural immersion trips, photography 📷adventure sports, karaoke🎤 traveling, cooking, reading, dancing, bonding with family and friends and flirting with social media  @




Current book project is supported through grants funded by American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Organization for Research on Women and Communication (ORWAC) and the University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities.

Grassroots Feminist Activism: Incarcerated Women and The Califoria Coalition for Women Prisoners

In 1995 several incarcerated black women at the California Correctional Women’s Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, California and feminist activists on the outside forged an alliance and founded the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP). The following year, CCWP members on the inside and outside embarked on an advocacy project through a newsletter publication to expand incarcerated women’s worldviews and liberatory activism. As a case study, this article traces the historical development of the organization and its grassroots feminist politics and advocacy as reflected in its newsletter publication The Fire Inside and in-depth interviews with formerly incarcerated women. Incarcerated women’s collective narratives are critical in the move to expand women’s political voices in organizing for change. Their collective narratives offer an alternative grassroots feminist discourse for understanding the implications of freedom, allowing incarcerated women to carve out space for their advocacy and visions for change.

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Grassoots Feminist Advocacy on The Frontlines: Incarcerated Women Speak on Resistance, Prison Reform and Justice

Analyzing 25 years of writing in The Fire Inside newsletter, this paper theorizes the incarcerated women’s public sphere and its emancipatory potential. In this paper, qualitative content analysis was used to understand the role of advocacy in achieving prison reforms.This qualitative study revealed three major problems affecting incarcerated women (a) living conditions, (b) healthcare, and (c) legal barriers and practices. This investigation also revealed multiple perspectives that shape the discourse on rights, justice, and accountability. Incarcerated women articulate their perspectives as (a) analysts, (b) leaders, (c) survivors, and (d) victims. The goal is to illustrate a well-informed way of thinking about incarcerated women as change agents. 


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Voices from The Inside: Incarcerated Women Speak

Voices from The Inside is a social-political analysis of the lived experiences within women's prisons in a holistic manner, recognizing the threads of voice and agency , as well as the harm enacted on them and their bodies. The study also highlights the advocay work of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and its role in creating the space for incarcerated women's political voices to emerge and their record of critical resistance.


For more information about this organization or to get involved, please click here.

Photo credit @angelinabambina
Liberatory Education

 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         


Like bell hooks, I understand education as a process of transformative learning wherein teachers and students engage in meaningful interactions that supports their critical growth. The learning process is reciprocal - we learn from each other. Key life events (teenage mother, incarcerated juvenile, first-generation college graduate and nontraditional Ph.D., and  urban upbringing in Los Angeles) informs my pedagogy around social justice education and approach to teaching and mentoring. As education and the ways that knowledge is constantly evolving, I am committed to consistently seeking self improvement. Learning new skills and techniques that will enable me to be an effective, successful teacher.


My ability to support and connect with students' starts with providing them the opportunity to learn in rich and meaningful ways that empowers them to see the strengths of their own abilities. My ability to facilitate active learning involves a range of informal and interactive assignments that support students’ learning styles and meaningful interactions in the classroom community. My ability to explain real world applications in educational settings is rooted in an understanding that we learn better when we see how a skill or knowledge can be used in different situations in our personal lives, careers, and to solve complex social problems. As a justice-oriented scholar, its imperative that I center contemporary social issues to help my students engender justice-minded worldviews.


The social engagement component of Dr. Ferguson’s course allowed me to take a closer look at the social issues and has inspired me to pursue many opportunities in social activism. - Roshni Patel


My social responsibility to my students outside the classroom is informed by a philosophy of paying it forward. I was surrounded by many brilliant, funny, and down-to-earth educators who supported my intellectual, personal, and emotional growth. I have leveraged my experiences, knowledge, and resources to 1) create opportunities for co-working experiences and collaborations, 2) orient students to campus and community resources to build up their social and cultural capital, 3) find concrete ways to demonstrate an empathetic view to their challenges, and 4) create safe spaces to learn about each other’s intersectional experiences and shared interests.



I won a merit scholarship from the College of Arts and Humanities, which I would never had gotten the opportunity to receive if I had not been in Dr. Ferguson's class. She has been a great mentor and supporter in my college education, and I am thankful to have had her.  

- Daisy Yu


Selected Honors, Awards & Distinctions


American Association of University Women (AAUW) American Fellowship, 2021 – 2022

Organization for Research on Women and Communication (ORWAC) Research Development Grant, 2021 – 2022

President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Maryland, 2019 – 2021

University of Maryland Arts and Humanities Faculty Funds Innovation Grant, Fall 2020

Do Good Institute Award for Do Good Assignment Instructor. University of Maryland School of Public Policy, Fall 2018

Women’s Health Resources Dissemination Project. Howard University School of Health Sciences, Fall 2015

Graduate School Council Conference Travel Award, Howard University, Spring 2017

Conference Travel Award. Barbara Hines Professional Development Fund. Howard University, 2017

National Park Service Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units Fellowship,

2015 - 2016

American Businesswomen’s Association DC Charter Chapter Scholarship, 2015 – 2016

Cathy Hughes School of Communications Board of Visitors Scholarship, Howard University, 2014 –  2015,

Graduate School Council Conference Travel Award, Howard University, 2014 

Stephen Bufton Memorial ScholarshipAmerican Businesswomen’s Association, Maryland Chapter, Summer 2013 

Stephen Bufton Memorial Scholarship, American Business Women’s Association (ABWA), South Bay Chapter, Summer 2011

Langston Hughes Excellence in Scholarship Award, Department of Africana Studies, California State University Dominguez Hills, 2011

Graduate Equity Fellowship, California State University Dominguez Hills, 2009 - 2010

Kwame Nkrumah & Shirley Chisholm Award for Outstanding Student Leadership and Community Service, Department of Africana Studies, California State University Dominguez Hills, 2007

Dr. William Little Memorial Scholarship, Department of Africana Studies, California State University Dominguez Hills, 2007

William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, California State University Dominguez Hills, 2006

Women’s Opportunity Scholarship, Soroptimist International, Camino Real Region 2005

Women’s Opportunity Award, Soroptimist International (SI) of The Verdugo’s, 2005

Career Advancement Scholarship, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, 2005

Ebell Scholarship for Accomplishments in Academics and Service, The Ebell of Los Angeles, 2003 - 2006


Click here to view my CV 

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Stay in the Know

My Recommendations on Books and Media Resources 


Sister Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health and Society

A. Breeze Harper

Black Women's Liberatory Pedagogies: Resistance, Transformation, and Healing Within and Beyond the Academy

Olivia Perlow

The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness

Rhonda V. Magee

Women, Race & Class

Angela Y. Davis

Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed The Movement

Kimberle Crenshaw

Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and The Politics of Empowerment

Patricia Hill Collins

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower

Brittney Cooper

Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around The World

Vashti Harrison

Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation

Beth Ritchie

Trust: Mastering The Four Essential Truths

Iyanla Vanzant


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Get in Touch

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