Sara Mitcho earned her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at George Mason University in 2014, where she also earned a graduate certificate in Women's Studies. An interdisciplinary scholar whose work lies at the intersection of the study of social movements, cultural studies, gender studies, and ethics, Dr. Mitcho is also an educator with teaching experience in sociology, composition, and a course on women's and gender studies whose experience includes several years as a full time college instructor.
Dr. Mitcho is currently at work on a book, tentatively titled The Violence of Nonviolence: Toward an Ethics of Protest, for which she has an advance book contract with SUNY Press. In this project, she critiques our reliance on a violent/nonviolent dichotomy to make ethical judgments about protest, whereby “violent” means “unethical” and “nonviolent” means “ethical.” She describes and demonstrates an alternative approach using case studies from the history of U.S. women’s protest from the post-Civil War era to the post-9/11 era (from women’s suffragists and temperance activists to women of the Weather Underground and the Black Panther Party, and finally to groups like CODEPINK and Mama Grizzlies). The alternative paradigm Dr. Mitcho presents values protest actions that account for three ontological factors--human ambiguity, vulnerability, and relationality--and that also take into account the greater context in which activists act: an environment of uneven power relations. This paradigm contends with some of the same ethical questions that concern those who rely on a violent/nonviolent dichotomy while demonstrating what we might be missing by leaning too heavily on this categorical distinction.
With this project, Dr. Mitcho contributes to an ongoing conversation with social movement theorists, gender studies scholars, ethicists, and historians about the relationships between (non)violence, ethics, gender, race, and social change. Unlike others, she argues that by moving outside of the framework of violence and nonviolence we can better analyze the ethics of protest movements and shape future ethical movements that produce necessary social change. She has presented on the research that shapes this project at a variety of academic conferences.
Dr. Mitcho is committed to critical pedagogy, a commitment reflected in her position as co-chair of the Cultural Studies Association’s Critical Pedagogies working group and her recent entry on feminist pedagogy in the Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. In the classroom, this commitment is reflected in her focus on creating a participatory learning environment and her use of assignments and prompts that urge students to make connections between theory and their everyday lives.