Mark Fleisher, PhD
Research Professor, Begun Center
Mark Fleisher in the News:
Mark Fleisher’s ‘Living Black: Social Life in an African American Neighborhood’ named among the Chicago Book Review’s best books of 2015
Feb 24 2016
The Chicago Book Review has named Mark Fleisher’s ‘Living Black: Social Life in an African American Neighborhood’ as one of the best books of 2015.
Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, the book provides a perspective into the day-to-day world of the historic North End neighborhood of Champaign, Illinois, a community of real and enduring poverty, yet one which maintains a vibrant social life and strong ties among generations. The neighborhood operates on its own nonjudgmental terms—teen moms aren’t derided, school dropouts aren’t ridiculed, and parolees and ex-cons aren’t scorned. The book focuses in on the stories of Mo and Memphis Washington, who fight to sustain a stable home for their children, and of Burpee, a local man who has returned to the North End to rebuild his life after years of crime and punishment in Chicago.
Dr. Fleisher serves as a Research Faculty Member with the Begun Center at CWRU’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
The Chicago Book Review wrote of the work: “Coming on the heels of a year of protests and violence in Chicago, Baltimore, Ferguson, and so many other cities and neighborhoods across the country, Living Black opens a window on a world that so many of us make assumptions about, succumbing to stereotyping without actually having any real experiences or relationships on which to base those assumptions and stereotypes.
“…Above all, Living Black is a human story, not necessarily an account of white vs black or haves vs havenots. This timely study offers a glimpse into a part of society that many of us choose to ignore. At a time when tolerance and understanding seem in short supply, Living Black should be required reading for anyone who could benefit from a look outside their own world into the world of others. Which is most of us.”
Jan 12 2016
Mark Fleisher does not shy away from some of the harshest environs posing some of society’s greatest challenges, be they in the darkest recesses of prison or the streets and hovels that house street criminals or runaways and gang kids. The renowned researcher and author has made a career of focusing in on tough people in rough circumstances, venturing into places most people would rather not think about, much less visit. The titles of his books themselves are a testimony to this work: ‘Beggars and Thieves’, ‘Dead End Kids: Gang Girls and the Boys They Know’, and ‘The Myth of Prison Rape: Sexual Culture in American Prisons’. His most recent book, Living Black: Social Life in an African-American Neighborhood, has recently been published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
He also recently published a chapter entitled, “The Culture of Violent Behavior: Language, Culture, and Worldview of Prison Rape”, appearing in Qualitative Research in Criminology, the latest volume of Advances in Criminological Theory, “a cogent appraisal of qualitative criminology and the ways in which rigorous qualitative research contributes to theorizing about crime and justice.”
“I’m not necessarily an ‘expert’ in violence,” says Dr. Fleisher. “I am an expert in how to collect data on violence on the street. Basically, I’m a cultural anthropologist and a linguist. And, as an anthropologist, I understand one thing: That there are no simple solutions. You can’t pull at one risk factor or one resiliency factor and get an outcome.”
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