Joshua Aiken is a poet, researcher, and J.D./Ph.D. student in History and African-American Studies at Yale University. He is the former Policy Fellow at the Prison Policy Initiative, where his research on mass criminalization was cited by The New York Times, in the introduction of legislation in five states, and in a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Joshua is also a Cave Canem Fellow whose work has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and whose poetry has been featured in publications such as Assaracus, BOAAT, fog machine, glitterMOB, Green Mountains Review Online, juked, Local Nomad, Muzzle Magazine, NightBlock, Sixth Finch, TENDER LOIN, and Winter Tangerine. He has been a poetry resident at the Vermont Studio Center, received an honorable mention in Boulevard Magazine‘s 2018 Contest for Emerging Poets, and was previously the Co-President of WU-SLam, a spoken word collective based in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2016, Joshua won the Oxford University Poetry Society’s Best Poem Prize, as selected by poet Jane Yeh. His most recent academic work and poetry were published, respectively, in Transgender Studies Quarterly and Sixth Finch.
Joshua received Master’s degrees in Forced Migration Studies (2016) and History (2015) from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He received his Bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in American Culture Studies and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, in 2014, where he studied as a Gephardt Institute for Public Service Civic Scholar and a John B. Ervin Scholar. He is also a Humanity in Action Fellow and an alumni of the US-UK Fulbright Summer Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 2020, Joshua received the Steven Esposito Memorial Scholarship from the Point Foundation to support his current academic work.
His research broadly focuses on the relationship between mass criminalization, racial capitalism, and state-sponsored civil, social, and corporeal violence in 19th and 20th century American history. Joshua is currently working on projects related to the history of racialized gun laws in the United States, slave overseers in American political thought, and U.S. extra-territorial surveillance and migration control along the Mexico-Guatemala border. He is currently a co-convenor of the Racial Capitalism and the Carceral State working group, a Teaching Assistant for the Yale Prison Education Initiative, and the Researcher-in-Residence at Artspace for “Revolution On Trial”—an exhibition focused on the New Haven Black Panther Party.
He can be reached at joshua.allen.aiken[at]gmail.com