International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Studying History to Understand the Present

This episode of Michigan Minds is part of a series produced by the University of Michigan Public Engagement and Impact Initiative and the Office of the Vice President for Research in celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

U-M doctoral candidate Allie Goodman, who studies urban history and the history of incarceration in 20th-century America before World War II, joined Michigan Minds to talk about her research and the importance of historical narratives in understanding societal challenges today. She also discusses the Reverb Effect podcast, which she produces through the U-M History Department.

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“My dissertation explores how children experience incarceration, but more broadly, how they experience progressive policy that criminalized their worlds—and how they moved and how they interacted with community institutions. The goal of that is to understand how we can create policy that doesn’t criminalize people, and actually provides care nets that are super crucial.”

Goodman discusses her recent work that investigates childhood interactions with coercive institutions and policing in Chicago. The archives she worked with included a series of life histories taken from incarcerated children in Chicago during the latter half of the progressive era—the 1920s and beyond. She describes how the archives spoke to the children’s experiences as they were interviewed, providing her with an alternative understanding as she continues her research.

“There’s all sorts of power dynamics that are happening, too, between adult and child, between incarcerated person and non-incarcerated person. That provided this really interesting lens into how to think about the work that I’ve carried with me. It’s something that I’m still trying to reckon with, but it’s something that’s deeply impacting my continued research.”

Goodman talks about her involvement with The Reverb Effect—a podcast that’s produced by U-M’s College of Literature, Science, & the Arts’ Department of History. She expands on the goal of the podcast as it aims to question how the past reverberates in the present. The Reverb Effect brings together scholars of history and history-related fields to discuss how their research continues to impact the world, and asks guests to tell stories about their research in a narrative way.

“The podcast is a great opportunity for people to turn their research around, and by shifting the audience and presenting history and their own research in a new light, it also very much reciprocally gives authors and contributors an opportunity to consider their own research in a new light. I know that when I wrote my own podcast, by sort of turning it around, I found some holes in my research, where I was like, ‘Oh, that question needs to be answered.’”

Goodman concludes with insight on the current publication she is working with—the Michigan Journal of Law and Society. As Executive Content Editor for History, Goodman’s role enables her to look at topics in history, sociology, law, politics, and policy through the lens of interdisciplinary scholarship.

“What’s interesting about interdisciplinary methodologies is that they ask how society works together. It’s not just these siloed fields. It’s really thinking more holistically about how the world and how law works. I’m really excited about the journal.”


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