Joan H. Robinson

JD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Social Science and Law

Areas of Expertise/Research

  • Law
  • Law and Society
  • Reproductive Justice
  • Research Methods
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Social Inequalities
  • Social Theory
  • Social and Legal Dimensions of Diagnosis, Diagnostics, and Testing
  • Sociology
  • Women and Gender Studies
  • Women's Human Rights


25 Broadway



Self-portrait of smiling professor in front of large medical drawings of brains, taken in the hallway outside of the Biology Department.

Joan H. Robinson


Joan H. Robinson, JD, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Social Science and Law at The City College of New York, CUNY, in the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies.  Robinson’s current book project examines how power is mediated through one type of surveillance technology, the pregnancy test.  The subjects of that surveillance are women's sexual and reproductive bodies, watched by everyone including women themselves.  Her research has been supported by the Research Foundation of CUNY, Columbia University, the National Science Foundation, the Center for Science and Society at Columbia, and the Center for Organizational Innovation at Columbia.  Her scholarship has been published in The British Journal of Sociology, Social Studies of Science, the Journal of Family Issues, Contexts, the Routledge Handbook of Science, Technology and Society, Wisconsin Women's Law Journal, and Spontaneous Generations.  She has received numerous awards for teaching, writing, academic achievement, and pro bono legal service.  Prior to becoming an academic, she practiced law full time as a Staff Attorney at The Legal Aid Society, and she remains a member of the Bar of the State of New York.


2018 PhD, Sociology, Columbia University
Robert K. Merton Best Dissertation Award, Department of Sociology at Columbia University
Dissertation Committee: Alondra Nelson and David Stark (co-sponsors), Gil Eyal, Bernard E. Harcourt, Carol Sanger

2014 MPhil/ABD, Sociology, Columbia University
Field Statement (Qualifying Exam) in Science and Technology Studies

2012 MA, Sociology, Columbia University

2005 JD, Brooklyn Law School

2002 BA, magna cum laude, Syracuse University
Double major in Political Science (Maxwell School) and Women’s Studies (A & S)


Courses Taught

  • Master's Thesis Seminar (MA)
  • Senior Thesis Seminar
  • Doing Social Research
  • Who Run the World? Gender Inequalities, Local to Global (sic; see Beyoncé 2011)
  • Sociology of Gender
  • Reproductive Justice

Publications (Selection)

Robinson, Joan H. 2020. “What the Pregnancy Test is Testing.” The British Journal of Sociology 71(3):460-73. (Available at

Morris, Theresa, Joan H. Robinson, Keridwyn Spiller, Amanda Gomez. (In submission). “Gendered Violence: Connecting Sexual Assault Trauma and Coerced Obstetrical Procedures.”

Robinson, Joan H. and Giselle Alexandria Valdez*. (Forthcoming). Race, Crime, and Justice Encyclopedia, eds. Delores Jones Brown and Christine S. Barrow. “American Civil Liberties Union,” “Asylum and Refugee Status,” “Human Rights” *undergraduate student coauthor

Morris, Theresa and Joan H. Robinson. 2017. “Forced and Coerced Cesarean Sections in the United States.” Contexts  16(2):24-29 (feature article). (Available at

Robinson, Joan H. 2016. “Bringing the Pregnancy Test Home from the Hospital.” Social Studies of Science 46(5):649-74 (lead article). (Available at

Eirich, Greg M. and Joan H. Robinson. 2016. “Does Earning More than Your Spouse Increase Your Financial Satisfaction? A Comparison of Men and Women in the United States, 1982-2012.” Journal of Family Issues. 38(17):2371-99.  (Available at

Robinson, Joan H. 2016. Review of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier by Ruha Benjamin. Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science 8(1):112-4. (Available at:

Nelson, Alondra and Joan H. Robinson. 2014. “The Social Life of DTC Genetics: The Case of 23andMe.” Routledge Handbook of Science, Technology and Society.  Routledge:108-23. (Available here)

Robinson, Joan H. 2005. “Another Woman’s Body Found Outside Juárez: Applying Velásquez Rodríguez for Women’s Human Rights.” 20 Wisc. Women’s L. J. 167. (Available at