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PhD candidate, social justice activist, and author Barbara Becnel has more than twenty years of experience working for prison reform in the state of California, while writing nine award-winning non-fiction books on street gang culture, as well as over one-hundred journal, magazine, and newspaper articles.

From leading an international media campaign aimed at preventing the judicial execution of reformed Crips gang co-founder and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Stanley Tookie Williams, to organizing an ‘Occupy San Quentin’ rally attended by hundreds in front of the state prison that houses California’s death chamber, she has often shown inspiring leadership and tenacity. Recently, she was appointed to an Expert Steering Group for tackling racial harassment in Scottish education. She also participated in a Steering Group focusing on the development of anti-racist curriculum for Scotland’s universities and colleges.

Building on her MSc in Social Justice and Community Action (With Distinction) earned from the University of Edinburgh, Barbara returned there to pursue a PhD. Her thesis explores how death row became a symbol of heroism for America’s street-gang generation. Integral to this is her collaboration with three former-though-imprisoned South Central Los Angeles gang members who are co-researchers on the project.

Keywords: Black street gangsters, street violence, street culture

Recent Publications: 

Becnel, B. (Autumn 2022) Transcending the ‘Dys-Care’ of Doctoral Students: Assessing How Cultural Similarities Between the United States’ Black Gangster Class and Academia’s Elite Adversely Influence Student Agency and Relevance in Knowledge Production. eSharp Journal, University of Glasgow. https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_913586_smxx.pdf

Becnel, B. (February 2019) Epistemology of the Streets: Why Youth Gangs Ignore the Rule of Law. LLM Law Review. https://www.llmlawreview.com/2019/02/24/epistemology-of-the-streets-why-youth-gangs-ignore-the-rule-of-law/ 



University of Edinburgh

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