Areas of Study
Criminology, Crime, Deviance, and Social Control, Education, Gentrification, Law & Society, Poverty, Race & Ethnicity, Stratification, Urban Sociology
Aliyah is a first-year PhD student at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining the Department of Sociology, Aliyah received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology (with high honors) and Law & Society from Oberlin College in 2017. Aliyah’s Mellon Mays undergraduate research project explored causal factors for disproportionate rates of gun violence and crime in urban, impoverished communities of color using the Southside of Chicago as a case study and microcosm for larger societal ills (i.e. structural racism and the ‘social death’ of various marginalized groups).
Aliyah’s honors thesis expanded upon this by exploring how narratives of hypermasculinity, although more insidious across time and space, are still being used by media outlets, political figures, and law enforcement agencies to disenfranchise Black men who are enmeshed in a life of crime. Through conducting twenty-five in-depth interviews of Black, young men across the Southside of Chicago, Aliyah discovered that people in positions of power have erroneously rationalized Black men’s uneven engagement in gun violence crime. Black men’s involvement in illicit behaviors is cyclical, multifactorial and contingent on their access to resources essential to improving the conditions of their livelihood. In brevity, Black men are not enacting gun violence because they are hypermasculine – or innately deviant and predisposed to a life of crime and failure; they are doing so out of desperation and necessity because they lack access to “traditional” (i.e. legal and enriching) means of obtaining upward mobility.
Hailing from a gun-stricken community on the Southside of Chicago has provided Aliyah with a profound desire for remediating urban violence and inequity through scholar-activism, which deeply informs her research and teaching interests in the field of urban sociology. During her first year of graduate study, Aliyah will serve as a teaching assistant to political and urban Sociologist, Assistant Professor Robert Vargas in his Introduction to Criminology course. Under Professor Vargas’ mentorship, Aliyah hopes to expand upon her undergraduate honors thesis through exploring how current public, penal, and education policies are racialized and target urban, poor people of color, namely through institutionalizing a new form of mass imprisonment called neoslavery.