Brackette F. Williams

Associate Professor Emerita of Anthropology

About Brackette F. Williams

Associate Professor Brackette F. Williams (Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, 1984) is interested in three overlapping areas critical to modeling the socialization of agents for relations among ethnicity, gender, age, and dark sector economic activities. Her initial research and publications focused on the Caribbean regions, where she conducted research on labor market segmentation, ethnic entitlement, and nationalist ideological precept in Guyanese post-independence state formation. She subsequently researched the impact of variation in ethnic cultural norms on perceptions of appropriate gender and age roles in the authority structures of social movements in the United States, focusing on Black Muslims of the Nation of Islam. Awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (1997-2002), she conducted a five-year comparative analysis of the cognitive processes revealed in legal professionals practices that select, adjudicate, sentence, and manage execution protocols in the United States and the informal classifications devised by social justice organizations to support and oppose retention of the death penalty. She was also awarded a Soros Justice Senior Advocacy Fellowship by the Open Society Institute (2007-2009) to investigate the impact of multiple long-term, combined with repeated short-term, solitary confinement in maximum-security facilities. Since 2008 Williams has worked with Dr. Christiana Bastos and other scholars researching late-nineteenth through early twentieth-century migration of impoverished Europeans from Portuguese Madeira to labor on plantations in the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa, and in the mills of North America. The collaborators study the role of labor, class, and race in Lusophone cultural production. In 2015, Williams joined Lori Labotka, a recent School of Anthropology doctorate, in exploring the influence of the least (less) eligibility principle and corollary permanent inequality on welfare, penal and corrections policy and practice. The issue connects presumptions of moral heritability to social stratification.

Areas of Study

Caribbean, North and South America