Our Students - Profiles

Nicole Solomon Lindahl


Year: Doctorate in JSP

Email: nicolelindahl@gmail.com


I am an interdisciplinary researcher with interests in prisons and punishment, the emotions, race and gender inequality, contemporary social movements, and qualitative research methods. My research program began with my personal experience teaching inside San Quentin State Prison in California and has expanded to encompass the growing movement challenging the punitive punishment practices and socio-economic conditions that have led to mass incarceration.
My dissertation, “Intimate Bonds: Race, Dehumanization, and Boundary-Making in the Neoliberal Prison,” uses observation and in-depth interviews to examine the relationships among prisoners, volunteers, and prison staff within San Quentin Prison between 2000-2010. While there are ample and rich macro-level theories and statistical portraits linking punishment and race, less clear is how race matters and is constructed within contemporary punishment institutions. This project provides a detailed portrait of how racial boundaries are constructed and contested on the ground through the relationships that develop within San Quentin, which, due to a proliferation of volunteer- and prisoner-run educational and therapeutic programs, is widely considered a “rehabilitative oasis” within the California prison system.
Ultimately, I argue that the development of intimate interpersonal bonds, particularly when formed across rigidly entrenched social boundaries, involves significant risks, but also assists in prisoners’ survival process, buffers against racially-charged violence, and partially ameliorates the effects of dehumanizing prison conditions. For prison staff and volunteers, negotiating the complex dynamics involved in relating with individuals in deprived and dehumanized conditions sometimes leads to the formation of a latent political consciousness which can manifest in small, reckless acts of resistance within the prison, as well as life-long dedication to challenging mass incarceration and social inequality. I was awarded a UC Dissertation Year Fellowship to finish this project by July 2016.


Prisons, Sociology of Punishment, Sociology of Emotion, Critical Race & Gender Theory, Qualitative Methods


BA, Rhetoric, UC Berkeley (2001)


UC Dissertation Year Fellow, 2015/16
Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies Fellow, 2013/14
Berkeley Law Human Rights Center Fellow, 2012
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, 2011
UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, Graduate Fellow, 2010-12

Curriculum Vitae
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