Elliot Wiseman Receives an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to Study How Crimes Are Reported by Detectives

June 3, 2021

Wiseman will join the Anthropology program to study the narratives created and used by detectives during investigatory police work.

Elliot Wiseman (Photo courtesy of Wiseman)
Elliot Wiseman (Photo courtesy of Wiseman)

By Lida Tunesi

When Elliot Wiseman starts as a Graduate Center Ph.D. student this fall it will be with the support of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP). Wiseman will join the Anthropology program to study the narratives created and used by detectives during investigatory police work.

The fellowship will provide Wiseman with $34,000 annually for three years, and $12,000 per year to The Graduate Center for the same period.

“In addition to the obvious financial benefits this award brings, it also serves as an indication that other scholars recognize the importance of the research,” Wiseman said, “and have faith in my ability to make contributions to my field. This is especially meaningful to me as a first-generation college student and the only person in my family to pursue graduate education.”

“We are thrilled that Elliot will be joining us at the GC in Anthropology,” said Professor Jeff Maskovsky (GC/Queens, Anthropology), the executive officer of the Anthropology Ph.D. program. “They will be joining several other students in our program who take an abolitionist approach to questions of crime and punishment, who use ethnography in partnership with racialized and gendered communities to dismantle unjust systems and logics of control and punishment, and whose scholarship is part of the broader effort to develop just systems of care, safety, and security for all, built from the ground up, with real community input.”

Detectives play a significant role in the larger criminal justice system, Wiseman explained. Their interviews, forensic analyses, charges, and reports combine to create a narrative of guilt or innocence that carries into trials, plea negotiations, and onward.

“Because the actions of investigators have far-reaching consequences, they should be examined closely and regularly,” Wiseman said. “Especially recently, as more attention has been called to question police accountability and organization, projects that seek to understand decision-making in law enforcement are crucial.”

Wiseman received a bachelor’s in criminology, law, and society from the University of California Irvine, though they found they naturally gravitated towards questions and topics in anthropology. While an undergraduate, Wiseman worked as a research assistant on two projects exploring wrongful convictions, and completed an internship with Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, part of the Council for a Stronger America. Since then, they have also worked with the Prisoner Advocacy Network and Future Now.

“All of these experiences contributed to my desire to be a professor, researcher, and advocate for reform,” Wiseman said. “The Graduate Center is well-suited to help me accomplish those goals and offers a diverse intellectual community, which I am very excited to be a part of.”

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