Fran Buntman

Fran Buntman

Fran Buntman

Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies

Core Faculty


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

Fran Buntman is from South Africa and has lived in Washington DC since 2000. Her degrees are from the University of the Witwatersrand, Brandeis University, and the University of Texas at Austin. Her primary teaching and research interests focus on prisons, punishment, law and other institutions of power, and resistance to power. These themes are core to her book, Robben Island and Prisoner Resistance to Apartheid (Cambridge, 2003) and two recent journal articles “Prison and law, repression and resistance: Colonialism and beyond” (2019), and, co-authored with Antwan Jones and Hiromi Ishizawa (2023), “The Mental health consequences of parental incarceration.” A faculty member at the Department of Sociology at GWU since 2002, she is currently working on a number of research projects, including the legal consciousness of incarcerated people.

     Professor Buntman works closely with students, alum, and in the community. 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. She loves teaching and supporting students through their learning journeys. Until recently, she was the Director of GW’s Law and Society Minor which she helped to found. Dr. Buntman currently serves as Sociology’s Director of Graduate Studies. In 2021 she was the Faculty Speaker for the MA Celebration and in 2023 was awarded the CCAS Award for Excellence in the Mentoring of Master's Students. She is the proud mother of two college students.

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

Jones, A., Buntman, F., Ishizawa, H., & Lese, K. (2022). The Mental Health Consequences of Parental Incarceration: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Longitudinal Study of Adolescents through Adulthood in the United States. American Journal of Criminal Justice.

Buntman, F. (2019). Prison and Law, Repression and Resistance: Colonialism and Beyond. Journal of International Commonwealth History, 47(2), pp. 213-246.

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. (2018, March 23). From Soweto to Stoneman Douglas: The power of youth protest. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved from

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.

Book Reviews

Buntman, F. Review of: Robert N. Kraft’s Violent Accounts: Understanding the Psychology of Perpetrators Through South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (New York University Press, 2014) for the International Journal of Comparative Sociology 60 (3), June 2019, pp. 217-219. doi:10.1177/0020715219846243.

Buntman, F. Review of: Saul Dubow. Apartheid, 1948-1994. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. For The American Historical Review 121(2), April 2016, pp. 692-693. doi:10.1093/ahr/121.2.692.

Buntman, F. Review of: Ahmed Kathrada. Letters from Robben Island: A Selection of Ahmed Kathrada's Prison Correspondence, 1964-1989. Cape Town: Mayibuye and Robben Island Museum and East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1999; Hugh Lewin. Bandiet: Out of Jail. Johannesburg: Random House, 2002; Fatima Meer. Prison Diary: One Hundred and Thirteen Days 1976. South Africa: Kwela Books, 2001; and Raymond Suttner. Inside Apartheid's Prison: Notes and Letters of Struggle. Australia: Ocean Press, 2001; For South African Historical Journal, December 2002. For Journal of Southern African Studies. Vol. 31, Issue 3, Sep 2005.

Buntman, F. Review of: Alison Wakefield. Selling Security: The Private Policing of Public Space. UK and Portland, Oregon: Willan Publishing, 2003. For Law and Politics Book Review. Vol. 15, No.2, February 2005, pp.145-149. Also posted at


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