Political science professor tackles African American and women’s studies

Political science professor tackles African American and women’s studies

Political science professor tackles African American and women’s studies


Dr. Jasmine Noelle YarishDr. Jasmine Noelle Yarish, assistant professor of political science, has a different view of the discipline of political science. She is a multi-disciplinary Americanist scholar ensuring African American and women’s studies are central in the dialogue. Further, this respected political scientist views the U.S. as just one case among other nation-states around the globe.

“I approach the historical role of the U.S. in democratic theory critically. It is not a special case to me but rather one amongst many,” Yarish said. “My approach as an Americanist is both with and against the tradition in the field of political science.”

This year, Yarish received two grants and one workshop award from the American Political Science Association that support writing a book manuscript. She is researching the intellectual contributions of six Black women and their roles in the first Reconstruction era in and around the city of Philadelphia between 1850-1880.

Yarish continues to work on a capacity-building project that began in 2021 with the DACOR Bacon House Foundation, one UDC’s community partners. Yarish is the UDC faculty co-coordinator of the UDC-DACOR Mentorship Program. The project reconfigures the DACOR house and museum into a teaching tool. [Link to complete web content on DACOR Partnership. With the DACOR Bacon House Foundation, Yarish has won a HumanitiesDC grant.

On October 15, Yarish presented at the Annual Celebration of Writing and Literacy Conference at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. With a conference theme of “Teaching Environmental Justice,” Yarish shared her thoughts connecting the political philosophy of abolitionism to environmental justice. The talk is a way to bring to the audience the variety of ideologies that she covers in a core class for the political science program at UDC (POLI 285) and provide context for syllabus transformation to include texts that center on the social impact made by Black women leaders.

“Unlike liberalism or conservatism, environmentalism is not a political ideology because it does not answer the question ‘what is the purpose of government?’ Rather, environmentalism is a material ideology that answers the question ‘what is the relationship between people and nature?’ The answer to this question has political significance, as it can denote the life chances of certain people sometimes at the expense of others. Abolitionism, an alternative political ideology, is better suited for a discussion of environmental justice because it answers a modified question: ‘what is the purpose of democratic government?’ By exploring the archive that traces the participation of Black women in and around the city of Philadelphia in both the project of abolition and concerns regarding the environment brought on by both rapid industrialization and deindustrialization of that same city, scholars and students can connect the dots across centuries for a more just and perhaps sustainable future.”

Digging deeper into framing today’s political science curriculum from an abolitionism point of view is evaluated in several of Yarish’s writings. A call for papers had Yarish thinking about linking the notion of a possible third Reconstruction with Black liberation themes in her article, “Seeding a Black Feminist Future on the Horizon of a Third Reconstruction: The Abolitionist Politics of Self-Care in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.” Published in the “Journal of Women, Politics & Policy,” her article examines how the young female lead character in Butler’s book brings together other intelligent visionary women who take on reconstruction from the 19th through 21st centuries. Butler’s writing is woven into a backdrop of science fiction storytelling.

Then there is writer, director, producer, and performer Jordan Peele. Yarish is contributing a chapter titled, “Creolization between Horror and Science Fiction: Jordan Peele’s Film Get Out and the Era of a

Third Reconstruction” to the upcoming book “Creolizing Frankenstein.” Creolizing can refer to processes of social and cultural change. By bringing Peele’s movie “Get Out” into a political science discussion, Yarish is looking at how that film and “Frankenstein” evaluate how gender, sexuality, and race play out in the Creolization process.

“I ask what sociopolitical work does ‘Get Out’ implore of its audiences in the current political landscape juxtaposed between ‘the New Jim Crow’ and ‘Third Reconstruction’,” Yarish said.

There is an endless well of political science ideas to explore. That’s one of the greatest things Yarish loves about being a scholar. When Dr. Yarish, a first-generation college student, set out to pursue graduate study she received a caution from her mentor, Dr. Jodi Dean, a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.

“I’ve got good news and bad news,” said Dean. “The questions never go away.”