Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michelle Brown

Committee Members

Lois Presser, Michelle Christian, Patrick R. Grzanka


Historically, the most vulnerable members of United States society— Black, indigenous, criminalized, disabled, and poor people—have been systematically subjected to reproductive control by the state. This control continues to take new, complex forms with important local and regional variation, setting national precedents. Tennessee is an exemplary case of “voluntary” sterilization through the implementation of new coercive programming. Through an ethnographic case study of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in Tennessee, this dissertation addresses four primary questions: 1) How did longacting reversible contraceptives become the primary mechanism of reproductive control in East Tennessee? 2) How do criminal justice system actors, health care providers, non-profit organizations, and community organizers work together to influence reproductive control? 3) What is the role of long-acting reversible contraceptives in the carceral state? 4) How are long-acting reversible contraceptives structured through the intersections of race, class, and gender? Drawing upon 33 in-depth interviews, 18 months of participant observation, and archival data, I argue LARCs became mechanisms of reproductive control through the influx of private dollars into public infrastructures which targeted Black, immigrant, undocumented, and poor women. Expanding upon the theoretical frameworks of Reproductive Justice and mass surveillance, I argue the spaces of reproductive control are, simultaneously, spaces of resistance and transformation. Exploring the dialectic experience of LARCs as mechanisms of vi reproductive control and as mechanisms of reproductive autonomy, I elucidate the interlocking webs of oppression in Tennessee to enable organized resistance as an emergent pathway of reproductive liberation.

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026

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