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Ragnhild Utheim

Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies

Ragnhild Utheim holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from the Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York. Her research interests include the anthropology of mass incarceration, youth justice and prison studies, education anthropology, globalization and social inequality, race and ethnicity, and gender and sexuality. Her ethnographic research has focused on the use of restorative practices as an intervention alternative to zero-tolerance policies, particularly among court-involved youth in high school settings.

Utheim completed a writing fellowship in CUNY’s Writing Across the Curriculum program, where she was trained in pedagogy and curriculum development, assisted faculty with course development, and conducted student workshops on writing in the disciplines . Her future research plans include documenting the impact of higher education in prison and the role of “inside-out programs” (college courses that combine students from inside and outside prison) in public opinion and civic engagement. 

Before her full-time appointment as assistant professor of liberal studies, Utheim taught for several years as a part-time lecturer in the anthropology program at Purchase and will continue to contribute to that program. She has also taught anthropology and sociology courses in the Marymount Manhattan College Program at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.

Research Interests

  • Anthropology of mass incarceration
  • Youth justice and prison studies
  • Education anthropology
  • Globalization and social inequality
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Gender and sexuality


“The Case for Higher Education in Prison: Working Notes on Pedagogy, Purpose and Preserving Democracy,” Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict and World Order, Vol. 43, Issue 3, p. 91-106. (2017)

“Restorative Justice, Reintegration, and Race: Reclaiming Collective Identity in the Postracial Era,” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 45, Issue 4, p. 355–372. (2014)

Restoring Community in the Era of Mass Incarceration. Anthropology News, 52 (7) October 2011.

Presentations / Conferences

The Possibility of Prison Abolition Pedagogy. Panel. Toward Abolition Pedagogy: Teaching Social Justice in Combined Classes. Eastern Sociological Society (ESS) Annual Meeting: The End of the World as We Know It? Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel, February 23-26, 2017. 

New York Consortium of Higher Education in Prison (NYCHEP) Panel. Co-Organizer. The Sixth Annual National Conference on Higher Education in Prison. Belmont University, Nashville, TN, November 3-6, 2016.

Innovative Pedagogy. Panel. Combined Classrooms: Exploring the Shared Learning Experiences of College Students Inside and Outside Prison in New York State. Eastern Sociological Society (ESS) Annual Meeting: My Day Job - Politics and Pedagogy in Academia. The Boston Park Plaza Hotel, March 17-21, 2016.

Teaching on the Inside: Toward Pedagogy of Possibilities. Co-Organizer for Panel: Working Notes from Teaching in Prison: Purpose, Pedagogy and Possibilities. The Fifth National Conference for Higher Education in Prison: Strategies for Action. University of Pittsburg, November 6-8, 2015.

Inequality, Equality and Difference. Organizer for Panel: Inequality, Teaching and Learning – for Social Justice. Society for Anthropology of North America (SANA) Annual Conference. John Jay College of Criminal Justice, April 17-18, 2015.

Privatization, Surveillance and Rising Inequality: Education Disinvestment and the Dispossession of Youth. Invited lecture for panel: The Politics of Schooling: Privatization, Surveillance and Inequality in Public Education. Invited Lecture. Montclair State University, March 26, 2014.

Race, Reintegration and (Un)Accountability: The School-to-Prison Pipeline and Restorative Justice. Invited Symposium. American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, April 2012

Race, Reintegration and Accountability: Ethnographic Narratives of Court-Involved Youth. Invited panel. Toward an Ethnography of (Un)Accountability: Race, High-Stakes Testing, and the Anthropology of Public Policy. American Anthropological Association 110th Annual Meeting, Montreal, November 2011.

Restoring Justice amid Politics of Denial: Contradictions of a Restorative Ethnographic Encounter. Panel. Local Crime Prevention: Strategies for Safe Spaces. Reclaiming the City: Building a Just and Sustainable Future. Urban Affairs Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 2011.

Restorative Justice in the Age of Color Blindness: Structural Violence and the Politics of Denial. Panel. Black Youth, Restorative Justice and the Psychology of Development. The State of African American and African Diaspora Studies: Methodology, Pedagogy, and Research. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean, New York, January 2011.