Melissa C. Brown is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a PhD in sociology in 2019. Her areas of expertise include intersectionality, digital sociology, social movements, and sexual politics.
Brown's current project centers on how Black women exotic dancers based in the urban South use social networking smartphone applications for advertising and networking. This dataset includes over 31,000 images, videos, and text generated from the smartphone application Instagram, which offers users a social networking platform that facilitates the exchange of various audiovisual content. Brown uses a mixed methods analysis to examine how Black women exotic dancers perform erotic labor, how the landscape of contemporary strip club industry maps on twentieth century Jim Crow segregation, and how the self-definition and self-valuation of the erotic labor of Black women contrasts with popular culture depictions. This work received funding from the University of Maryland's Behavioral and Social Sciences College Dean's Research Initiative and the University of Maryland Department of Sociology's William H. Form Summer Research Fellowship.
Brown's previous research on antiracist and Black feminist social media activism has been published in Ethnic and Racial Studies. She is also the digital editor for Black Feminist Sociology, a forthcoming volume edited by Professors Zakiya Luna and Whitney Pirtle.
For more information about Brown's work, please go to blackfeminisms.com.