Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Womens Studies

Major Professor

David Rubin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michelle Hughes Miller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kim Golombisky, Ph.D.


progressive legal activism, white racism, governmentality


In what ways does the legal and political monitoring of “hate groups” and "hate group activities" benefit the American left? Possible victims of crimes? Law enforcement? The state? Specifically, in what ways does the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate map” challenge and/or reiterate relations of power and knowledge? This thesis offers a feminist critical analysis of hate group surveillance and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s mapping of hate. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a progressive legal advocacy group that aids in the surveillance of “hate groups” and legislation against “hate crimes.” I investigate the assumptions grounding the SPLC’s rhetorical use of the term “hate” and analyze their surveillance and mapping in order to add to the growing body of literature that that seeks to rethink the institution of whiteness and the relationship between progressive groups and law enforcement. The SPLC’s “Hate Map” offers a visualization of “hate” while simultaneously ignoring and obscuring racism. This thesis is meant to produce an alternative reading of this map and the SPLC’s hate group surveillance. Using a critical feminist framework that is intimately linked to critical race theory and anarchist criminology, I interrogate the SPLC’s methods of mapping and surveillance as well as their connection to law enforcement and governmentality. In analyzing SPLC’s “Hate Map” and their “Law Enforcement Resources” page, I contend that the SPLC's use of "hate" in lieu of racism is a reflection of their uncritical analysis of systematic racism and state violence associated with whiteness. While I recognize SPLC’s important role in combating crimes against marginalized groups through advocacy and legal aid, I contend that their rhetoric around “hate” and use of mapping and surveillance may potentially collude with governmentality and state violence against historically disenfranchised populations.