Publication Date

February 17, 2023

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily


  • United States


African American, Women, Gender, & Sexuality

Charlene J. Fletcher is an affiliate faculty in Africana studies and curatorial director at Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis and Conner Prairie Museum. She lives in Indiana and has been a member since 2011.


Charlene J. Fletcher

Alma mater/s: BA (criminal justice), Martin University, 2006; MA (criminal justice) John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 2009; MA (history), Brooklyn College, 2014; PhD (history), Indiana University Bloomington, 2020

Fields of interest: African American, gender studies, carceral studies

Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?

My original undergraduate major was history, and after graduation, I spent more than a decade working in the criminal justice system. I served as a program administrator in juvenile justice, domestic violence, and sexual assault prevention, and finally, as the director of one of the most extensive prison reentry programs in New York City. My work in the criminal justice system led me to teach at the City University of New York with an eye on impacting the next generation of criminal justice professionals. I could not educate my students without teaching history, so I returned to the field. Since then, I have focused on the lives and legacies of Black women and confinement. In 2020, I served as the ACLS Emerging Voices Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice.

What do you like the most about where you live and work?

I am originally from Indianapolis and it is great to be back and engaged with the city’s vibrant cultural and intellectual communities.

What projects are you currently working on?

My current manuscript, Confined Femininity: Race, Gender, and Incarceration in Kentucky, 1865–1920, is under contract with the University of North Carolina Press.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?

Yes, I am interested in death and funerary practices in the African diaspora.

What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?

There are too many to name!

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?

This is Problematic podcast on your favorite podcast outlet!

What do you value most about the history discipline?

In order to know where you are going, you must know where you have been. Learning from the historical past enables us to envision and navigate our future.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you?

The AHA provides great networking and learning opportunities!

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

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