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--an intellectual community devoted to normative and empirical explorations of social justice and equity issues that are often relegated to the periphery of criminological thinking. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the Women and Gender Studies program at George Mason University.

Her research and teaching interests are broadly in the areas of social inequality, punishment and incarceration, and qualitative research methods. She has studied (for example) constructions of adulthood in a women's prison, the role of masculinity in the incarceration-homelessness nexus, and the prison experiences of wrongfully convicted men. Her current (primary) research project is an ethnographic study of how family members of incarcerated people 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; Feminist Criminology; Critical Criminology; Punishment & Society; and Crime, Media, Culture.

Selected Publications

(* denotes equal authorship; ** denotes student author) 

Janani Umamaheswar. 2024. “The construction of capital among family members of people in prison.” British Journal of Criminology. Published online before print. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azae013 

Arden Richards-Karamarkovich** and Janani Umamaheswar. 2023. “Narrative resilience among formerly incarcerated mothers.” Feminist Criminology 19(1): 59-78. 

Janani Umamaheswar. 2023. "The relational costs of wrongful convictions." Critical Criminology 31: 707-723.

Janani Umamaheswar. 2023. “Secondary characters in narratives of wrongful conviction.” Crime, Media, Culture 19(3): 345-361. 

Janani Umamaheswar. 2023. “Innocence as burden and resource: Adaptation and resistance during wrongful imprisonment.” Theoretical Criminology 27(3): 499-516.

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.

Janani Umamaheswar. 2022. “Wrongful conviction as racialized cumulative disadvantage.” British Journal of Criminology 63(3): 537-552.

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.

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. 

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.    

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)