This Alumnus Published His Dissertation as an Award-Winning Book

November 11, 2019

Jan Haldipur (Ph.D. '15, Sociology) talks about how he did it and what compelled him to look at the consequences of stop and frisk policing in the Bronx.


Jan Haldipur (Ph.D. '15, Sociology), author of No Place on the Corner: The Costs of Aggressive Policing

In his book, No Place on the Corner: The Costs of Aggressive Policing, Jan Haldipur (Ph.D. ’15, Sociology) explores the profound racial and social consequences of stop-and-frisk policing on a community in the South Bronx. The ethnography, which grew out of his Graduate Center dissertation, is intended for anyone who is interested in justice and policing. Now, No Place on the Corner has been awarded the 2019 Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice. Haldipur, who is an assistant professor of sociology at California State University, Long Beach, was honored along with Alex Kotlowitz for his book, An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago. The award “celebrates the power of the written word to create change in the name of justice for all.”
The Graduate Center caught up with Haldipur to ask him about his book, his research, and his experience at The Graduate Center. 
The Graduate Center: How did you come to the topic of your book? 
Haldipur: I’ve always been interested in exploring inequality in the criminal justice system. Growing up in Syracuse, it was hard to ignore the consequences of mass incarceration and aggressive policing on my community. I think that stuck with me. When I began my graduate studies at The Graduate Center and the alarming statistics on “Stop and Frisk” in New York City began to come out, I felt compelled to talk to the people who were most affected by this practice to see how they were making sense of this policing regime.    
GC: You also have a master’s in social work. Did your experience as a social worker in the Bronx help to steer you toward your research?
Haldipur: After I completed my M.S.W., I began working at a prisoner reentry organization in lower Manhattan where my work focused on the challenges people face when trying to find employment after they are released from prison. At the time, I was also living in the Bronx and volunteering with local organizations near where I began my research. So, naturally, I began spending a lot more time in the Bronx.  
GC: Can you tell me a bit about your experience as a doctoral student in sociology at The Graduate Center?
Haldipur: From the start, my committee seemed to understand my vision for this project and provided tremendous support throughout the process. I think one of the greatest strengths of The Graduate Center is the diversity of faculty research interests. I was able to find a group of scholars whose research interests and expertise aligned with my own. This extended outside of my own discipline, sociology, so I was able to work with scholars in other fields who had similar interests.  
GC: Who were your mentors?
Haldipur: Philip Kasinitz, presidential professor of sociology; Michael Jacobson (Ph.D. ’86, Sociology), executive director of the CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance; and William Kornblum, emeritus professor of sociology.  

GC: Doctoral students are always interested in hearing how a dissertation becomes a published book. Can you offer them some advice?
Haldipur: Be patient and be open-minded. Just because it’s an interesting dissertation doesn’t mean it will be a compelling book. We spend a lot of time researching and writing our dissertations for a particular audience. It’s important to be open to constructive criticism from our peers and editors as we transform it into book form.  
GC: What’s next?
Haldipur: My work in the Bronx sparked my interest in how individuals and families experience trauma through these negative encounters with the criminal justice system. To that end, I’ve been working with a multi-disciplinary team of psychiatrists and psychologists in Los Angeles to explore these consequences.