The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia

Bailey

Dionne received her doctorate in History from the University of Mississippi. Her work centers on African American women and the southern carceral state.  More specifically, Dionne specializes in the study of black women and incarceration in the American South.  Dionne’s dissertation placed particular emphasis on the lived experiences of African American women incarcerated at Parchman penitentiary, one of the South’s and Mississippi’s most notorious prison. Her manuscript will further expand on her dissertation entitled, “PLEASE DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME”:  AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN, MISSISSIPPI, AND THE HISTORY OF CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN PARCHMAN PRISON, 1890-1980, which won the 2016 Franklin Riley Prize from the Mississippi Historical Society for the best dissertation on a topic of Mississippi history or biography. Dionne’s research places women at the center of the United States political economy and illustrates how southern states, including Mississippi, shaped their public policies and laws to exploit black women’s labor and sexuality. The manuscript will trace the proliferation of the American penal system from the late nineteenth throughout the twentieth century while adding a nuanced perspective of the carceral state and the history of crime and punishment from a bottom-up perspective. More specifically, the work points out that, beginning in the 1880s, the South developed a unique system of domestic parole.  The Mississippi justice system effectively adopted this system and used its racist ideologies of gender, labor, and space to criminalize African American women. The book spans different historical periods and centers incarcerated black women’s experiences while also recovering their voices. The manuscript broadens scholarly understanding of slavery, imprisonment, the Jim Crow era, convict leasing, racism, space, and economics.  As importantly, the manuscript investigates labor and sexual exploitation within the prison system and shatters the so-called state-imposed notions of sexual deviance of African American women both outside and within the prison walls.  The manuscript also contextualizes federal and state judicial systems that criminalize women who were raped, unwed mothers, and those in same-sex relationships.

First Name: 
T. Dionne
Position: 
Post-Doctoral Fellow (History)
Photo: 
Bailey
Classification: 
Institution: 
University of Mississippi
Dissertation Title: 
“PLEASE DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME”: AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN, MISSISSIPPI, AND THE HISTORY OF CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN PARCHMAN PRISON, 1890-1980