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I am an emerging political scientist and writer focusing on contentious AND CARCERAL politics.


I am a Ph.D candidate in Political Science at Stanford University where I am a Knight-Hennessy Scholar and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.


My research uncovers the dark side of development. I focus on the historical and economic determinants of coercive and carceral institutions, primarily in the world's largest democracies. My work is based in India and the Americas. 


I use empirical methods to track state and police violence as it emerges alongside projects of resource extraction, namely the extraction of land and labor. To study these topics, I use large-scale administrative data, open-source environmental data, archival documents, and in-depth interviews in fieldwork. ​In my dissertation project, I uncover police violence on tea plantations in Assam, India where the British system of indenture has long-run impacts.

As a graduate student, I am affiliated with the Poverty and Governance lab and the Inclusive Democracy and Development lab. I received support from the King Center for Global Development and the Stanford Center for South Asia. Beyond research, I co-lead Stanford's Jail and Prison Education Project where I am passionate about community-based teaching and pedagogy.

I believe in using political science for political struggle around the world. Outside of academia, I communicate with non-academic audiences as a writer: of plays, features, and so forth. I also discuss my work publicly on the Imagine a World podcast.

I originally hail from a Detroit exurb, after which I received my B.A in Environmental Studies and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan, where I was a first-generation college student. 



You can contact me at eruss[at]stanford[dot]edu or via Twitter at @EmilyPRussell.

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