Ashleigh Cartwright is broadly interested in how systems of power are created and maintained. She primarily explores how racial, economic, gender, and sexual hierarchies among others are (re)produced institutionally and organizationally (e.g., in legal and educational systems). Her intellectual approach is historical, rooted in Black Studies and black traditions, and attentive to 1) the histories, afterlives, and present manifestations of slavery and colonialism and 2) how systems of domination affect the well-being of systematically dominated people.
Ashleigh is currently working on an ethnographic and archival study of the A Better Chance organization (ABC). ABC, a still-operating organization, was founded in 1963 to select and train nonwhite children to integrate white public and private schools in the US. Her study examines: 1) how nonwhite children have been selected and trained to integrate white schools from the 1960s to the present, 2) the historical and sociopolitical contexts in which ABC has emerged and flourished, and 3) the economic and sociopolitical interests ABC has served.
Ashleigh's research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Social Science Research Council.