Student Spotlight: Tauheeda Yasin Defends her Dissertation

Student Spotlight: Tauheeda Yasin Defends her Dissertation

Tauheeda Yasin successfully defended her dissertation entitled "The New Poorhouse: Poverty Wrangling, Predatory Justice, and Resurgence of Modern 'Debtors' Prisons'." She has worked with Dr. Roger N. Lancaster, Dr. Angela Hattery, and Dr. Janine Wedel. Here is a brief interview with Tauheeda conducted by Severin Mueller in which she reflects on her doctoral education at Mason.


How have your research interests changed from the time you began the PhD program to now, and in which direction do you envision your work moving upon graduating?

My research interests have changed a lot from the time I began the program. I started the program anticipating studying the convergence of Islam and hip-hop, especially in Latin America and the U.S. I took a trip to Cuba during my second year with the Dance department, and it changed the course of my studies in a good way. I think being exposed to the differences in government systems, between Cuba and the U.S., helped formulate my interest in governmentality. In the wake of the protests in Ferguson in 2014, I became increasingly interested in the justice system and looking at comparative examples. It is what I think prompted my interest in the Dutch systems as well. I would like for my work to help shape a conversation around #defund and justice system funding. I'd like to see continued discussion and envisioning of a better justice system. I'm not quite sure the exact shape these conversations and platforms for the conversation will look in the future, but I try to remain optimistic.

What kinds of professional development did you pursue while a student and which do you think will best position you to get the job you want: publishing, presenting, teaching, service in the department, engagement in non-university service projects, acquiring particular research skills?

I took advantage of many different types of professional development. I did a Digital Humanities BRIDGE Workshop through put together by folks in the Roy Z. Center. It was very eye-opening, and I didn't know how I would use the tools at the time, but it prompted an interest in python, data mining, and computational thinking, which was important in the formations of what I wanted to do.

What is one of your best memories from your time in the PhD program in Cultural Studies?

Some of my fondest memories, though it may sound crazy, were the pushes at the end of the semester to finish papers. I did some of my best thinking under pressure. I also enjoyed the great discussions in class with Roger, Denise, Paul, Craig, and Alison. We won't have them anymore, but the beginning of the semester meetups at Dina's house are also memorable.