2020 applicants

Dr Johanna Romer

Department of Sociology
Dr Johanna Romer



I joined the Department of Sociology in 2018 after working at New York University and Hunter College, the City University of New York. Funded by the British Academy, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Council for European Studies, my research focuses on punishment and the governance of migration as sites for conceptualizing inequality, citizenship, and legality, and engages with socio-legal studies, critical criminology, and scholarship on discourse and new media. This historical and ethnographic work situates legal systems in Spain and North Africa as sites of cultural contact, examining both how state power operates through scientific and legal categories—as well as how forms of commerce, commons, and confraternities in Mediterranean societies built alternative forms of political engagement. My second project turns to the legacies of transnational cultural and economic networks bridging Spain and North Africa as they intersect with new national and international governance frameworks for the region. A related project, Linguistic Mediation and Social Media, analyzes the communicative labor of constructing viewer-influencer relationships on social media as critical to conceptualizing how certain types of emotion, including fear and anger, circulate on- and offline.


  • PhD New York University,

  • BA University of Chicago,

Research and professional activities

Conferences and presentations

Enforcing Integration? Regulating and Constructing Legality in Catalan Prisons

Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, Washington DC, United States, 1/6/2020

Rights, Regulation and Social Formations: New Directions in Legal Anthropology

American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, Canada, 22/11/2019

Borders, Biomes and Biospheres: Policing Beyond the Urban

Invited presentation, European Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, European Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, Ghent, Belgium, 12/9/2019

Meditations on Racial Justice

Invited presentation, Transitions Program, Engaged Pluralism Initiative, Vassar College, Vassar College, 31/7/2019

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Dangerous Ideas: Essays and Manifestos as Social Criticism Capstone (CS301)

  • Dangerous Ideas: Essays and Manifestos as Social Criticism (CS305)

  • Introduction to Crime, Law and Society (SC104)

  • Ethnographic Research Methods (SC277)

  • Introduction to Social Anthropology (SC107)


Journal articles (1)

Römer, J., (2019). Ambiguous publicities: Cultivating doubt at the intersection of competing genres of risk evaluation in Catalan Prisons. Punishment and Society. 21 (3), 342-363

Grants and funding


National Law, Transnational Justice? The Role of Legal Status in Parole Decision-Making in Catalonia, Spain

British Academy


+44 (0) 1206 872665


5A.318, Colchester Campus