History and African American Studies
B.A., History and French, summa cum laude, North Carolina State University, 2015
Research Interests: 19th and 20th Century African American History; Carceral Studies; Black Feminist Theory; Gender and Sexuality Studies; Cultural History
Micah Khater is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint program in History and African American Studies. Her dissertation, “‘Unable to Find Any Trace of Her’: Black Women, Genealogies of Escape, and Alabama Prisons, 1920 – 1950,” argues that black women negotiated and challenged an expanding carceral state by running away from police, jails, and prisons. Through a wide swath of archival sources and interdisciplinary methodologies, her project asserts that incarcerated black women’s escape was both an articulation of desire and a rhetoric of protest. Centering black feminist theory, “‘Unable to Find Any Trace of Her’” attends to the intimate, politicized dimensions of people’s lives as well as their broader context. In so doing, Khater renders alternative narratives of insurgency that acknowledge how kinship, longing, disability, and grief were bound up with resistive action.
“‘Unable to Find Any Trace of Her’” situates black women’s escape from police, jails, and prisons in the broader landscape of modernizing carceral infrastructure in the early twentieth century. In so doing, Khater critiques police/prison reform as a viable politic of liberation. Instead, her dissertation locates how southern bureaucratic modernity furthered, and elaborated upon, antebellum scripts as a means to reify racial regimes. In this way, she charts the historical processes by which police and prison surveillance began to entwine and, thus, how carceral punishment increasingly expanded beyond the physical bounds of prisons.
In 2020-2021, Khater is a Center for Engaged Scholarship Fellow. Her dissertation research has also been funded by the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration; the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition; and the Frances S. Summersell Center for the Study of the South, among others.
In addition to scholarship, Khater is a creative writer. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Sukoon and Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art. In 2019, she was a finalist for the Black Warrior Review fiction contest. She has received poetry workshop fellowships from Winter Tangerine and The Speakeasy Project.