Rashmee Singh

Assistant Professor | Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies, Legal Studies

picture of Rashmee Singh.

PhD Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies (Toronto)
MA Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies (Toronto)
BA (London School of Economics)

Research and teaching areas

Research Areas

  • Gender Based Violence
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Criminology & Governance
  • Specialized Courts

Teaching Areas

  • Socio-Legal Studies
  • Criminology
  • Feminist Legal Theory

Graduate Supervision:  Qualitative Socio-Legal Research; Feminist Theory; Gender Based Violence; Socio-Legal Responses to Crime; Governance and Governmentality

Current research

My three new research projects draw on my existing training and expertise to analyze emerging and unexplored topics in criminology, socio-legal studies, and women’s studies.  

1) My primary project examines the recent advent of specialized prostitution courts in the United States.  These prosecutorial innovations purport to ‘help’ rather than punish sex workers by mandating their attendance at a variety of counseling programs for substance abuse, trauma, ‘addictions to prostitution,’ as well as employment and life skills training, as conditions of their sentences. In 2014, I received a University of Waterloo (UW) seed grant, which I used to conduct an exploratory study on one specialized prostitution court in Illinois. The project entailed one year of court observation and interviews with 19 criminal justice officials, social service providers, and community based organizers involved in the founding and administration of the court. My study allowed me to identify and theorize a new penal technology of reform and punishment that would not have been recognizable without direct observation of the prosecution process and its impact on defendants

The next phase of my prostitution court research will draw on my recently acquired UW/SSHRC Research Incentive Fund (RIF) to conduct a multi-site study of prostitution courts in the United States.  My research objective is to examine the strategies these courts deploy to cultivate aspirations for low wage work amongst defendants and the employment programs participants attend to ensure their ‘legitimate’ labour market participation, which is a pre-condition for completing their court sentences.  In focusing on how specialized prostitution courts mimic the interests and responsibilities of Workfare programs associated with social welfare state practices, my broader theoretical intentions are to examine the hybrid penal welfare formations that evolve as a specific mode of governance for poor, racialized women.  

2) My second project is a SHHRC-funded study that examines the use and effects of visual evidence in domestic violence investigations and trials.  I am a co-investigator on this project with Dr. Dawn Moore, at Carleton University. Drawing on the insights of feminist criminology, surveillance studies, and socio-legal scholarship, our specific focus is on how evidence in the form of videotaped statements and photographs of injuries generates visual narratives of violence that sometimes support, but often conflict, with the accounts victims relay during trials. To assess this interaction, we are examining case law, interviewing domestic violence victims about their experiences with visual evidence, and interviewing police officers on how this material is collected and constituted as evidence. 

3) My third research project is a collaborative study with Drs. Doris Buss, Dawn Moore, Diana Majury, and George Rigakos from Carleton University designed to examine university responses to campus sexual violence at three Ontario Universities.  The project entailed in-depth interviews with students, student survivors, university administrators, service providers, campus security, and municipal police.  In total, we acquired 126 interviews, the findings of which enabled us to provide recommendations for how to develop and reform university policies and procedures towards campus sexual violence. In addition, we critically evaluate the government focus on reforming policies and procedures, which, though well intentioned and important, we argue, leads to a ‘fetishization of reporting’ and a neglect of broader social processes that foster gender based violence in the first place.  The findings of this project are detailed in a provincial government report entitled, Responses to Sexual Violence at Ontario University Campuses.   

Research Grants

2017: Insight Development Grant UW/SSHRC Research Incentive Fund Principal/Sole Investigator 
Project Title: “Penal Welfarism and the Production of Market Citizens in Specialized Prostitution Courts”
Funds: $10,000

2016: University of Waterloo Gender Equity Grant Co-investigator
Project Title: “Health Condition Disclosure Among pre-Tenure Women: What is and isn’t Reported and Why”
Funds: $9,996

2015: Ontario Ministry Of Community Safety and Correctional Services Co-investigator Project Title: “Sexual Violence on Ontario University Campuses.”
Funds: $236,220

2014: SSHRC Insight Grant Co-investigator Project Title: “Seeing Crime: Visual Evidence, Victims & Domestic Violence”
Funds: $177,254

2013: UW/SSHRC SEED Grant Principal/Sole Investigator Project Title: “Exploring Criminal Justice and Community Partnerships: Chicago’s Specialized Courts for Sex Workers”
Funds: $5500

Recent publications

  • Singh, Rashmee (2017). “‘Setting a Good Example for the Ladies:’ Example-Setting as a Technique of Penal Reform in Specialized Prostitution Court.”  The British Journal of Criminology [Online ahead of print] DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azx037       
  • Moore, Dawn and Singh, Rashmee (2017). “Seeing Crime, Feeling Crime: Visual Evidence and Emotions in the Prosecution of Domestic Violence.” Theoretical Criminology. [Online ahead of print] DOI: 10.1177/1362480616684194 
  • Singh, Rashmee (2017). “‘Please Check the Appropriate Box:’ Documents and the Governance of Domestic Violence.” 42 (2), Law and Social Inquiry, 509-542.
  • Sibley, Marcus A., Wohlbold, Elise, Moore, Dawn and Singh, Rashmee (forthcoming). “How She Appears:” Demeanour, Cruel Optimism and the Relationship Between Police and Victims of Domestic Violence” in eds. George Pavlich and Matthew P. Unger, Entryways and Criminalization.
  • Singh, Rashmee. (2016) “Importing Feminisms: Racialized Migrants and Gender Violence in Toronto’s Diaspora.”  Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 23 (4), 508-530.
  • Singh, Rashmee (2016). “Domestic Violence and Mandatory Charging: Re-evaluating the Zero Tolerance Approach” in eds., Roberts and Grossman, Criminal Justice in Canada: A Reader.
  • Moore, Dawn and Singh, Rashmee (2015). “Seeing Crime: ANT, Feminism, and Images of Violence Against Women” in Dufresne and Robert (eds.), Actor Network Theory and Crime Studies: Explorations in Science and Technology. London: Ashgate, 67-81. 
  • Singh, Rashmee (2012). “When Punishment and Philanthropy Mix: Voluntary Organizations and the Governance of the Domestic Violence Offender” Theoretical Criminology, 16(3), 269-287. 
  • Singh, Rashmee (2010) “In Between the System and the Margins: Community Organizations, Mandatory Charging, and Immigrant Victims of Abuse” Canadian Journal of Sociology, 35 (1), 31-62. 
  • Singh, Rashmee (2010) “Immigrant and Refugee Women and the Unintended Consequences of Domestic Violence Policy,” in ed. Kirsten Kramer, Criminology: Critical Canadian Perspectives. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada, 191-204.

Government Research Reports

  • Buss, Doris, Majury, Diana, Moore, Dawn, Rigakos, George, and Singh, Rashmee (2016). Reponses to Sexual Violence at Ontario University Campuses. Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.  
  • Wortly, Scot, Randy Seepersad, Rashmee Singh, Andrea McCalla, Carolyn Green, Natasha Madon, Nicole Myers, Carolyn Cotes-Lussier and Terry Roswell (2008).  The Root Causes of Youth Violence: A review of Major Theoretical Perspectives.  Ministry of the Attorney General, Government of Ontario.
Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo

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