Dr. Sherri Lawson Clark

Assistant Professor Dr. Sherri Lawson Clark Cultural Anthropologist - Wake Forest University
Cultural Anthropology
Office: 109 Piccolo Building
Phone: (336) 758-3556
Email: clarksl@wfu.edu

Dr. Sherri Lawson Clark (Ph.D., American University), an applied cultural anthropologist, has conducted ethnographic fieldwork for over 15 years with low-income urban and rural African American, Latino, and white families across the United States.  Dr. Clark’s research specialty surrounds housing instability among poor families and examines the intersections of housing policy with health and welfare policies, marriage initiatives, migration, and the effects of residential mobility on the well-being of poor children and families.  Her research is guided theoretically through the lens of the built environment in which spaces where the poor live, work, shop, entertain and relax are seen as socially produced, constructed, contested, and embodied.  Dr. Clark has discussed her research in both academic settings and at the local level with community-based organizations, social service employees and others who provide direct services to those in need.

Dr. Clark teaches courses in cultural anthropology and social stratification in America surrounding her research foci.  Many of her courses are cross-listed in the American Ethnic Studies program where she is a Core Faculty member.  In the classroom, she uses her teaching and scholarship to equip students with the necessary knowledge, training, and cultural sensitivities to aid them as future problem-solvers in our global world. Her pedagogy is praxis-oriented whereby students are able to deconstruct and comprehend conceptual arguments by applying them in real life contexts.

Research and Scholarly Activities


Book Manuscripts

Smith-Ruiz, Dorothy, Sherri Lawson Clark, and Marcia J. Watson, eds. Contemporary African American Families: Achievements, Challenges, and Empowerment Strategies in the 21st Century. New York, NY: Routledge. Book Manuscript, accepted for publication.

Virgil, Steven M. and Sherri Lawson Clark. Poverty Law Case Book: A Guide to Student Advocacy Work. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press. Book Manuscript, accepted for publication.

Peer-reviewed articles

Lawson Clark, Sherri.
2012  In Search of Housing: Urban Families in Rural Contexts. Rural Sociology, 77(1): 110-134.

Lawson Clark, Sherri, Linda M. Burton, and Chenoa A. Flippen.
2011 Housing, Power, and Intimate Relationships in the Lives of Low-Income Puerto Rican Mothers. Journal of Family Issues, 32(3): 369-393.

Burton, Linda, Donna Marie Winn, Howard Stevenson, and Sherri Lawson Clark
2004  Working with African American Clients: Considering the “Homeplace” in Marriage and Family Therapy Practices. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 30(4): 113-129.

Lawson Clark, Sherri
2002 Where the Poor Live: How Federal Housing Policy Shapes Residential Communities. Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development 31(1):69-92.

Book chapters

Lawson Clark, Sherri
2006  Separate and Unequal: Housing Policy in Action on the Periphery of Our Nation’s Capital. In Homing Devices: the Poor as Targets of Development Policy, eds. Mark Schuller and marilyn m. thomas-houston. Pp. 59-79. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Burton, Linda and Sherri Lawson Clark
2005 Homeplace and Housing in the Lives of Low-Income Urban African American Families. In Emerging Issues in African American Family Life, eds. V.C. McLoyd, N. Hill, and K. Dodge. Pp. 166-188. NY: Guilford Press.

Book Reviews

Lawson Clark, Sherri
2015  The Hero’s Fight: African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State, by Patricia Fernández-Kelly. Princeton University Press. CHOICE.

2015  Behind the White Picket Fence: Power and Privilege in a Multiethnic Neighborhood, by Sarah Mayorga-Gallo. University of North Carolina Press. CHOICE.

2014  Pauperland: Poverty and the Poor in Britain, by Jeremy Seabrook. Hurst & Company. CHOICE.

2013  The Specter of “The People”: Urban Poverty in Northeast China, by Cho Mun Young. Cornell University Press. CHOICE.

2013 Driven from New Orleans: How Nonprofits Betray Public Housing and Promote Privatization, by John Arena. University of Minnesota Press. CHOICE.

2012  Women and Poverty in 21st Century America, by Paula vW. Dáil. McFarland & Company, Inc. CHOICE.

2012 Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home, by Anita Hill. Beacon Press. CHOICE.

2011  Cheating Welfare: Public Assistance and the Criminalization of Poverty, by Kaaryn Gustafson. New York: New York University Press. CHOICE.

2011  Tierra y Libertad: Land, Liberty, and Latino Housing, by Steven W. Bender. New York: New York University Press. CHOICE.

2011  Dangerous or Endangered? Race and the Politics of Youth in Urban America, by Jennifer Tilton. New York: New York University Press. Teachers College Record.

2010  “Housing the Homeless.” Review of Hard Lives, Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women, by Jana L. Jasinski, Jennifer K. Wesely, James D. Wright, and Elizabeth E. Mustaine. Boston: Northeastern University Press. CHOICE.

Policy Reports

2010 “Housing Instability: Toward a Better Understanding of Frequent Residential Mobility Among America’s Urban Poor.” Final Policy Report. Center for Housing Policy, Washington, D.C.

2007  “Migration for Housing: Urban Families in Rural Living.” Final Policy Report. Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

2002 “Ethnographic Overview and Assessment at Brown v. Board.” Report. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Topeka, KS.


2015    Lifelong Learning class: “Let’s Play: Theatre as a Mirror of our Lives and Culture.”
Guest Speaker: UNIVERSES Live! – From the Edge Discussion – Race, Politics, & Poetry.

2015    Summit School, Winston-Salem, NC
Lecture: “Acting out Social Stratification: ‘12 Angry Men’”

2015    Teaching and Learning Center, WFU
Workshop: “Facilitating Difficult Discussions in the Classroom.”

2014    Clybourne Park, WFU Department of Theatre
Invited Panelist: “Not in My Neighborhood: Racism and Real Estate.”

2014    Education for a Better World, WFU Office of Admissions
Mock Lecture: “Poverty across Race, Gender & Space”

2014    The State of Fair and Affordable Housing conference, City of Winston-Salem Human Relations Commission, Winston-Salem, NC
Invited Panelist: “Moving toward More Equity in Homeownership.”

2013, 2014      CNS 360: Professional and Life Skills, Wake Forest University
Guest Lecturer: “Assessing & Understanding Workplace Culture & Relationships.”

2013    Contemporary African American Families: Achievements, Challenges, and Empowerment Strategies in the 21st Century conference, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Invited Speaker: “Home is Where the Wealth Is: African Americans and the Housing Debacle.”

2013    Latino Awareness Week, Wake Forest University
Invited Speaker: “Black-Brown Race Relations.”

2013    Brown Girls Get Real: Feminism in Communities of Color, Wake Forest University,

2012    Minorities in Islam/Muslims as Minorities conference, Wake Forest University
Chair: “Narratives, Memories, and Imaginaries among Muslim Americans.”

2012    Society for Applied Anthropology, Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MD.
Roundtable Discussant: “Applied Anthropology, Poverty Research, and Welfare Policy in the Post-Welfare Reform Era.”

2011    Wake Forest University, Museum of Anthropology
Lecture: “Journeys through Housing: Privacy, Protection, and Place.”

2011    Social Change Exchange: A Community Forum Exploring the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Poverty, The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Panelist: “How Many Hours are in Your Day: The Daily Rhythms of Mothers Living in Poverty.”

2010    Women’s & Gender Studies Research, Development and Advancement Committee Colloquium Series
Speaker: “When a Man Needs a Woman: Housing, Power, and Relationships.”

2009    The American Anthropological Association, Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
Discussant: “Urban Anthropology, Scholarship, Social Justice and Brett Williams.”

Teaching and Student Engagement

Courses Taught:
ANT 111 – People and Cultures of the World
ANT 325 – Roots of Racism: Race and Ethnic Diversity in the U.S.
ANT 335 – Anthropology of Space: Social Stratification of the Built Environment
FYS 100 – Poverty across Race, Gender & Space



Shannon Telenko, (expected 2016), Anthropology, American University, Committee Member, “Forced Out: Migration of the Urban Poor to Rural Pennsylvania.”

Boniface Noyongoyo, (expected 2016), Sociology, University of Central Florida, Research Incubator Mentor, “Dietary Acculturation of International Students in the United States.”

Sarjo S Patrick, 2015, Sociology, Benedict College, “Sociocultural Impact on Black Women`s Body Size Preference: A Cross Cultural Comparative Analysis.”


Erica Bullock, M.A., 2014, Communications, Wake Forest University, Committee Member, “Black Identity and Representation in Film.”


Ataijah, Taylor, 2015, URECA advisor, Independent Study, “Negotiating Deviant Space: Life in a Small Dominican Village.”

Leegan Lim, 2014, URECA advisor, “One In Dance: An Investigation of Urban Dance Culture, its Manifestations, and Meanings in Sao Paulo, Brazil.”

Jelani Ince, 2014, Independent Study, co-authored research, “We’ll herald the story and die for her glory, Old Gold and Black is ever waving high!: The Black Male Experience at Wake.”

Jonathan W. Williams, 2013, Senior Thesis advisor, co-authored research, “A Statistical Analysis of the Collapse and Closure of the Alexander County Chamber of Commerce.”

Takira Dale, 2012, Independent Study, “The Complexities of Domestic Violence.” Jessica Harrington, 2012, Independent Study, “Guardian ad Litem program in Yadkin County.”

University Service

Core Faculty, American Ethnic Studies
Steering Committee, Anna Julia Cooper Center
Advisory Board, Pro Humanitate Institute

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