Renée Byrd

Renée Byrd
(707) 826-3160
Founders Hall 229

Dr. Renée M. Byrd is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Cal Poly Humboldt. Dr. Byrd received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies from Mills College and her Ph.D in Feminist Studies from the Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is an outspoken prison activist scholar, whose research centers the intersection of race, gender, mass imprisonment and neoliberal political rationalities. Dr. Byrd has won numerous awards and fellowships including the Sociologists for Women in Society Chow Green Dissertation Scholarship, as well as the University of Washington’s graduate medal, which is awarded to doctoral students whose academic expertise and social awareness are integrated in a way that demonstrates an exemplary commitment to the University and its larger community. Her current book project is titled, “Punishment’s Twin”: Theorizing Prisoner Reentry for a Politics of Abolition. The project argues that prisoner reentry is deployed using a vocabulary, which mimics a critique of mass imprisonment, in order to expand the punishment system and render it more flexible, cost effective and legitimate.Outside of academia, Renée has worked as a legal advocate for women prisoners with Justice Now in Oakland, a family advocate for youth in the Juvenile Justice System and on broader campaign work aimed at building a world without prisons. In collaboration with the Books Not Bars Project of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Dr. Byrd helped produce the human rights documentary System Failure: Violence Abuse and Neglect in the California Youth Authority, which is currently distributed by WitnessNYC. Central to her work is the goal of using research justice and filmmaking not just as methods, but as tools for building community and social movements. Dr. Byrd is also currently working on an experimental film about transformative justice and methods for addressing violence without relying on policing and prisons. Dr. Byrd works with MA students interested in exploring systems of oppression, state violence, women of color feminisms, post-structuralism, Foucault, biopolitics, and Law and society scholarship.

Renée's other website: Earthseed Laboratories

Specialty Areas

Critical Race Studies; Law & Society; Prison Abolition; Transnational Feminisms; Queer of Color Critique; Sexuality Studies; Environmental Justice; Neoliberal Political Rationalities; Social Theory; Poststructuralism; Globalization; the State and State Violence


Ph.D., Feminist Studies, University of Washington in Seattle

Current Graduate Students

Name M.A. Project
Douglas Smith