Dr. Alesha Durfee is an Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University (ASU). Alesha’s research, teaching, and service focus on domestic and sexual violence, social policy, and women’s entanglements with the legal system. Her current book project, Structural Intersectionality, Domestic Violence, and Law, examines the unintended and collateral consequences of “victim friendly” domestic violence policies and laws, including mandatory arrest and civil protection orders. Drawing heavily on Black Feminist Thought, and centering marginalized survivors, she compares the needs, experiences, goals, resources, motivations, and vulnerabilities of actual survivors with those assumed by the legal system. The implications of her analysis are widespread, and include (1) identifying and removing structural barriers that prevent survivors from accessing legal resources and (2) shifting from separation-based policies to those designed to help survivors achieve safety, stability, and healing.
Other projects include a 2019 Victim Research-to-Practice Fellowship (with Mesa Municipal Court) to estimate victimization rates among Community Court defendants and identify barriers to victim services, a 2015 National Institute of Justice Research-Practitioner Partnership grant (with Mesa Municipal Court) to examine judicial and petitioner decision-making in protection order filings, a 2012 National Science Foundation Law and Social Sciences grant (with Dr. Jill Messing) to analyze survivors’ decisions to use the legal system, and a Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Grant in Women’s Studies to assess protection order outcomes. In 2018, she was a finalist for a Fulbright to Australia to conduct an intersectional, cross-national analysis of Community and problem-solving courts.
Other research projects include the arrest decision in cases of domestic violence reported to law enforcement, the consequences of mandatory and pro-arrest policies for domestic violence, the social construction of domestic violence victimization, and how gender influences how narratives of violence are constructed and interpreted in the justice system. She also served as a guest co-editor (with Dr. Madelaine Adelman and Dr. Jill Messing) for a special issue of Violence Against Womenon gender violence and transdisciplinarity. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Violence Against Women, Gender & Society, and Feminist Criminology, and she has written for media outlets such as The Conversation and National Public Radio.
While at ASU, she has taught courses on gender and violence, women and crime, and quantitative and mixed methods courses. As part of her gender and violence course, she organizes the ASU-Tempe Clothesline Project; since 2012, it has grown into a two-day campus and community event with over 2,800 shirts on display. She is currently co-editing a book (with Dr. Dawn Gilpin) on using an arts-based, trauma-informed approach to anti-violence work.
In 2018, she received a Catalyst Award from the Committee on Campus Inclusion for her work in fostering a safe space for survivors on the ASU campus. She has also received a “Bad Ass Woman of ASU” Award, was named a Distinguished Mentor, and in 2012 was nominated for ASU Professor of the Year. She is currently the President-Elect of the ASU Faculty Women’s Association.