Fran Buntman

Fran Buntman

Fran Buntman

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Core Faculty


Email: Fran Buntman
Office Phone: (202) 994-7465
801 22nd St. NW Washington DC 20052

Fran Buntman’s primary teaching and research interests focus on prisons and other institutions of punishment and power, especially in the United States and South Africa. A faculty member at the Department of Sociology at George Washington University (GWU) since 2002, she studies resistance and law to understand and change inequities and injustice. These themes are core to her book, Robben Island and Prisoner Resistance to Apartheid (Cambridge, 2003) and her recent journal article “Prison and Law, Repression and Resistance: Colonialism and Beyond” (2019). She centers committed teaching and mentoring students along with a pedagogy that integrates theory and practice, including through public engagement and advancing student-led policy change. Dr. Buntman is an institutional leader; she serves as Sociology’s Director of Graduate Studies and directs the interdisciplinary Law and Society Minor which she was instrumental in creating. She has been recognized for her research, teaching, and advising work through multiple awards. Fran Buntman maintains an active research agenda, currently ranging from the manifestos of mass shooters to prisoner reentry. Born in South Africa where anti-apartheid politics and being Jewish shaped her life, she was educated at the University of the Witwatersrand, Brandeis University, and the University of Texas at Austin. She is now happily a 20-year resident of Washington, D.C., a proud mom of DC high school seniors, and grateful for a diaspora of family and friends.

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

Sentencing reform and mass incarceration

Mandela and law

Prison, law, and resistance

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



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

Selected Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Eglitis, D., Buntman, F., & Alexander, D. (2016). Social Issues and Problem-based Learning in Sociology: Opportunities and Challenges in the Undergraduate Classroom. Teaching Sociology, 44(3), 212-220.

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 for and quoted in Adolfo Flores, “Asylum Seekers Keep Resorting To Hunger Strikes, Despite Limited Success,” BuzzFeed, December 28, 2015.…

Interviewed for and quoted in Melissa Sim, “US anti-police anger: No quick fixes,” The Straight Times [Singapore]. May 3, 2015.

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."


PhD University of Texas at Austin, 1997