Fran Buntman

Fran Buntman

Assistant Professor of Sociology
409 G
Address: Phillips Hall
801 22nd St. NW
Washington DC, 20052
Phone: 202-994-7465

Areas of Expertise

Inequality, law, power, prisons, punishment, race, resistance, social change, South Africa


Professor Fran Buntman’s primary teaching and research interests focus on prisons and other institutions of punishment and ‘correction’, law and power, and inequality, especially in the United States and South Africa. She is interested both in open and hidden expressions of power and resistance, and how social institutions tell us a great deal about our social values and commitments. Her teaching, research, and writing seek to integrate and facilitate inter-disciplinary dialogue between and among theory and practice, scholarly contribution and civic involvement, global and local realities. To these ends, Prof. Buntman emphasizes advising and mentoring students as well as teaching. She received two Columbian College of Arts and Sciences’ awards for Advising and Teaching, specifically the 2012-2013 Excellence in Undergraduate Departmental Advising Award for 2012-2013 and the Robert W. Kenny Award for Excellence in Teaching an Introductory Course for 2013-2014. She is also the director of GW’s new interdisciplinary Law and Society minor and, for Spring-Summer 2014, the Faculty Director of the Brasilia Without Borders Innovative Leadership in a Transnational World Pre-College Program at GWU. Committed to public sociology, she contributes to public debate, including speaking about Nelson Mandela’s legacy on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show and for other news outlets, concerning theater and issues of justice through the Folger Shakespeare Library, Theater J, and GW’s National Civil War Project Conference. She is an active university and DC citizen, whether promoting student research, ethical and engaged Jewish communal life, diasporic connections, or improved public education.

Current Research

Sentencing reform and mass incarceration

Resistance and nihilism


PhD University of Texas at Austin, 1997



Buntman, F. L. (2003). Robben Island and Prisoner Resistance to Apartheid. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Selected Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Buntman, F., & Muntingh, L. (2013). "Supermaximum prisons in South Africa." In J. Ross (Ed.), The Globalization of Supermax Prisons (pp. 80-94). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Buntman, F. (2011). "Therapeutic jurisprudence, apartheid’s victims, and the South African Truth and Reconciliation" [Commission]. In E. Erez, M. Kilchling, & J. Wemmers (Eds.), Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Victim Participation in Justice: International Perspectives (pp. 169-206). Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Buntman, F., & Buntman, B. (2010). "‘Old synagogue’ and apartheid court: Constructing a South African heritage site." South African Historical Journal, 62(1), 183-201.

Buntman, F. (2009). "Prison and democracy: Lessons learned, and not learned, from 1989 to 2009." Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, 22(3), 401-418.

Buntman, F., & Snyman, R. (2003). "Policing in a diverse and multi-cultural society: The South African case." Journal of Police & Society. An Interdisciplinary Israeli Journal of Law Enforcement and Criminology, 7, 197-230. Also published online by the National Institute of Justice.

Buntman, F. (2001). "Race, reputation, and the Supreme Court: Valuing blackness and whiteness." University of Miami Law Review, 56(1), 1-24.

Buntman, F., & Huang, T. (2000). "The role of political imprisonment in developing and enhancing political leadership: A comparative study of South Africa's and Taiwan's democratization." Journal of Asian and African Studies, 35(1), 43-66. Reprinted in: Taiwan in Perspective (pp. 43-66). Wei-chin Lee ed. Leiden: The Netherlands: Brill Publishers, 2000.

Newspaper Articles/Opinions and Analysis

Buntman, F. (2010). "Jacob Zuma's Robben Island legacy." Concerned African Scholars Bulletin, Special issue: The Politics of Jacob Zuma (84), 62-65. Retrieved from

Buntman, F. (2009, August 21-28). "Beware the trend of 'creeping vilification.'" South African Jewish Report.

Buntman, F. (2009, August 15-16). "Zuma's Island-style studies." The Weekender.


Interviewed in “Creating a Criminal" episode of History Repeating Itself. July 2014.

Quoted in Pam Bailey, “Israel and US: Common strategies to control political prisoners.” Al Jazeera. June 2, 2014.           

Quoted in Farah Stockman, “Power in prison: The silver lining of leaders’ long prison sentences.” The Boston Globe. December 17, 2013.

Interviewed for a Christian Broadcast News report on three strike policies. January 10, 2014.

Interviewed by Sky News Arabia for “Nightly Discussion” segment about Nelson Mandela’s life and death. December 10, 2013.

"Understanding Nelson Mandela’s Legacy." Kojo Nnamdi Show, WAMU, Studio interview. December 9, 2013.

Interviewed for and quoted in a report by IHA, a Turkish news agency, about Nelson Mandela’s legacy. ABD Mandela’yı anıyor. December 7, 2013.

Quoted by Ari Roth. Yom Kippur Talk, "On The Dramas of Admission."

Classes Taught

Undergraduate Courses:
SOC 1000 - Prisons and Punishment: International Fact, Film, and Fiction (Dean's Seminar)
SOC 1003 - Introduction to Criminal Justice
SOC 2145 - Criminal Law
SOC 2167 - Sociology of Law
SOC 2181 - (Special Topics) South Africa: A Political Sociology
SOC 2189 - (Special Topics in Criminal Justice) Corrections and Punishment
CPS 2101 - The Criminal Justice System

Graduate Courses:
SOC 625
7 - Gender and Criminal Justice
SOC 6262 - Corrections