My Story

I am originally from Chicago. In my early twenties, I spent many years traveling through Latin America and Southern and West Africa, including a year as a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa. After I returned to the United States, I worked as a wilderness instructor for adjudicated youth and founded a non-profit organization that focused on dismantling mass incarceration. My research is in the religious and philosophical origins of the construct of race and anti-racist social movements against disproportionate policing and imprisonment. My first book, Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice, was published in June 2017. I continue to work in state prisons: I direct Warren Wilson’s partnership with a local women’s prison and coordinate a program in which Warren Wilson offers credit-bearing classes to incarcerated students. My spouse and I have three children and live in West Asheville.

Rima Vesely-Flad
Formal Gardens - Landscaping


  • B.A., University of Iowa
  • M.Div., Union Theological Seminary
  • M.I.A., Columbia University
  • Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary

Research Interests

  • Origins of race and racial constructs
  • Mass imprisonment
  • Religious ethics

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Race and the Politics of Crime

Crews and Other Activities

  • Partners in Education at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women
  • Peace and Justice Studies Program
  • Africana Studies Program

Contact Dr. Vesely-Flad

Jensen 302
WWC CPO 6225

PO Box 9000

Asheville, NC 28815-9000