Belknap on Meda Chesney-Lind: “The mother of feminist criminology”

Article by Joanne Belknap, Women & Criminal Justice, Vol. 15, Issue 2, February 2004.


No individual has contributed as much to feminist criminology as Meda Chesney-Lind. This article is a biography of Chesney-Lind written after conducting two interviews with her, and a careful reading of her work and other works written about her. Feminism was always a strong force in Chesney-Lind’s life. Her childhood was difficult, but positively affected by her strong mother. In college and graduate school, Chesney-Lind became an ardent political activist. She “fell into” her master’s work on delinquent girls, which began a career that has significantly impacted criminology and raised awareness about delinquent girls and incarcerated women. This biography describes how Chesney-Lind’s early life experiences critically influenced her career as a criminologist. Additionally, this essay illustrates a scholar who has changed the field of criminology despite the large portion of her academic life spent marginalized in a community college.

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