Janani Umamaheswar

Janani Umamaheswar

Janani Umamaheswar

Assistant Professor

Social inequality, punishment and incarceration, the life course, qualitative research methods

Dr. Janani Umamaheswar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society, where she co-directs (with Dr. Robert J. Norris) the Social Justice Collaborative. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the Women and Gender Studies program at George Mason University and a Research Affiliate in the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University. 

Her research and teaching interests are broadly in the areas of social inequality, punishment and incarceration, the life course, and qualitative research methods. She recently completed a study exploring the role of masculinity in the incarceration-homelessness nexus, and she is currently working on two main research projects. The first is a qualitative exploration of the prison experiences of wrongfully-convicted men, and the second is an ethnographic study of how family members of incarcerated persons seek support and community to help them cope with the challenges of familial incarceration. Her work has been published in journals such as Justice Quarterly; Theoretical Criminology; British Journal of CriminologyEthnic and Racial Studies; Incarceration; Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology; Punishment & Society; and Crime, Media, Culture.

Selected Publications

(* denotes equal authorship) 

Janani Umamaheswar. 2023. "The relational costs of wrongful convictions." Critical Criminology. Published online before print (https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-023-09684-x). 

Janani Umamaheswar. 2022. “Secondary characters in narratives of wrongful conviction.” Crime, Media, Culture. Published online before print (https://doi.org/10.1177/17416590221127291). 

Janani Umamaheswar and Eman Tadros. 2022. “‘Not anybody can be a Dad’: The intergenerational transmission of masculinity among incarcerated men.” Crime & Delinquency 68(10): 1740-1764. (Published online in September 2021.) 

Janani Umamaheswar. 2022. “Innocence as burden and resource: Adaptation and resistance during wrongful imprisonment.” Theoretical Criminology. Published online before print (https://doi.org/10.1177/13624806221112167). 

Janani Umamaheswar. 2022. “Wrongful conviction as racialized cumulative disadvantage.” British Journal of Criminology. Published online before print (https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azac061). 

G. Alex Sinha and Janani Umamaheswar*. 2022. Wrongful imprisonment and coerced moral degradation. California Law Review Online 13: 17-31. 

Catherine Tan and Janani Umamaheswar*. 2022. “Structural racism and the experience of ‘tightness’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 45(9): 1649-1670.(Published online in August 2021.)  

Janani Umamaheswar. 2022. “ ‘On the street, the only person you gotta bow down to is yourself’: Masculinity, homelessness, and incarceration.” Justice Quarterly 39(2): 379-401. (Published online in January 2021.)

Janani Umamaheswar. 2021. “Shadow and light: Online narratives of relationship dissolution among former partners of incarcerated men.” British Journal of Criminology 62(3): 607-622.  

Janani Umamaheswar. 2021. “ ‘Suppression on top of oppression’: A symbolic interactionist perspective on the affective experience of incarceration.” British Journal of Criminology 61(4): 1107-1125.

Janani Umamaheswar. 2021. “ ‘When my mother died, I think a part of me died’:  Maternal fusion and the relationship between incarcerated men and their mothers.” Journal of Family Issues 42(2): 253-275.

Janani Umamaheswar and Catherine Tan*. 2020. “ ‘Dad, wash your hands’: Gender, care work, and attitudes toward risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Socius 6: 1-14.

Janani Umamaheswar. 2020. “ ‘Changing the channel’: Hybrid masculinity in a men’s prison.” Incarceration 1(2): 1-19.    

Janani Umamaheswar. 2020. “ ‘When the hell are you going to grow up?’: A life-course account of hybrid masculinities among incarcerated men.” Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology 6(1): 127-151.

Janani Umamaheswar. 2020. “Policing and racial (in)justice in the media: Newspaper portrayals of the Black Lives Matter movement.” Civic Sociology 1(1): 12143.


Courses Taught

CRIM 402: Punishment and Corrections

CRIM 490: Gender and Crime

CRIM 795: Gender and Crime

CRIM 795: Qualitative Research Methods


Ph.D., Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University (2014)

M.A., Sociology, University of Toronto (2009)

B.A., Sociology, University of Toronto (2008)