Laurence Ralph is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of Renegade Dreams: Living through Injury in Gangland Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2014), which explores the networks of commerce, criminality, and affiliation that congeal in the figure of the disabled gang affiliate. Disabled gang members, he argues, are especially susceptible to injury, a concept he uses to theorize related genres of debility.
Ralph’s current research project involves US citizens who feel that the American legal system is not equipped to address police use of extralegal force. They are appealing to international bodies (particularly the United Nations) to seek recognition for their grievances. Hence, Ralph’s work addresses the domestic problem of police force in relation to the pressing international concern of global governance. His work suggests that given the current climate of police violence, racial angst, and heightened awareness around policing in the United States and abroad, a comprehensive study is needed to think critically about the state and practices of policing.
Ralph has been awarded numerous awards for his research, some of which include an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship; a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; membership at the Institute for Advanced Study; and a Du Bois-Mandela-Rodney Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the University of Michigan’s Department of Afroamerican and African Studies. He earned a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago.