Jerel Ezell

Assistant Professor of Africana Studies


Jerel Ezell is a mixed-methods researcher and Fulbright Scholar focused on health disparities and social inequality in post-industrial communities, and serves as the Director of the Center for Cultural Humility and ReLateral Lab. His research and pedagogy attempts to take an earnest and nuanced view of the staggering constellation(s) of forces that come to influence and texture health and social outcomes, exploring the knotty tapestry of political, economic and cultural factors which contribute to inequities. Jerel's work investigates how impacts from steady patterns of deindustrialization have been felt especially hard in Black and lower-income populations, where community disinvestment, environmental degradation, crime, and diminished public health--acting as virtual "aftershocks"--has often followed the exit of prominent industries, particularly those in the automobile, steel production and agriculture sectors. 

Concentrating primarily on the Rust Belt and Bible Belt, his community-based research interrogates the various organizational, social and situational dynamics contributing to the dramatic, ongoing shift in our economic landscapes and labor markets and the resultant impacts on health and social equity and environmental sustainability in America.

Jerel's current research projects focus on macrosocial factors contributing to the Flint Water Crisis and patterns of opioid use in the industrial Midwest and the northeastern United States. As part of this scholarship, Jerel situates deindustrialization as a force presaging prominent American neo-liberal theory to identify and characterize the radical sociopolitical mutations leading to and following post-industrialism in the U.S.

Jerel earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology (PhD) from the University of Chicago, a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) in anthropology from the University of Michigan.


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