AES Welcomes Oliver Rollins

Oliver Rollins
Assistant Professor Oliver Rollins

AES proudly welcomes its newest faculty member, Dr. Oliver Rollins, the latest one to be added to our roster of exceptional and diverse faculty.  Rollins will serve as assistant professor with focused teachings in African American studies and American ethnic studies beginning winter quarter 2022.  He completed his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, San Francisco and most recently was based at the University of Louisville in its sociology department.

Rollins’ research examines the ways race, racism, and other practices of social inequality inform the production, value, and anticipated application of neuroscience research. 

Conducting his work at the intersections of three strands of sociological research – sociology of health and illness; science, knowledge and technology studies; and race/ethnicity and racism – Rollins brings to critical light the impacts and outcomes of neuroimaging research on human subjects.  Indeed, in his new book, Conviction: The Making and Unmaking of The Violent Brain (Stanford University Press, 2021), Oliver Rollins highlights the “interconnected social institutions and practices that systematically discriminate against certain bodies, mitigate life chances, and tacitly reproduce racial inequity.”

There is a notorious and quite racist history that underpins biological research on violence.  In attempts to eschew this past, today’s neuroscientific and genetic researchers reject deterministic and racist explanations of violence for brain-based risk models of such behaviors.  Nevertheless, in Conviction, Rollins pinpoints a looming danger in this technology, due to the ways it re-envisions and ultimately silences the voices, bodies, and experiences of those most affected by social difference, power, and inequality.  The threat from biological theories of violence today, therefore, is less about the return of an older bio-deterministic rationale of crime, and instead rest in the way this science may help preserve social and racial inequities through the technical omission of unequal life chances.  By unveiling the social assumptions that underpin this science, Rollins warns that this violent brain model will likely provoke new regimes of corporal surveillance in the name of public health and safety, that will effortlessly bolster the existing problematic and racist law enforcement tactics.  

 Join AES as they host a meet and greet event for Rollins this December 2021, pending pandemic restrictions.  Please provide your contact information at aes@uw.edu to be added to our mailing list for this event.  Use “Welcome Rollins” on the subject line when submitting your information.