Postdoctoral Fellows

Meredith Hall

2021–2023 Postdoctoral Fellow, Sociology
PhD in Sociology, New School for Social Research

Meredith Hall comes to USC from the New School for Social Research, where she completed her PhD in Sociology in 2021. Her research examines the moral logics of the intellectual property regime, in particular the changing definitions and rewards of creativity in the scientific and cultural industries. Her current book project, “Properties of Color: How Corporations Came to Own the Visible Spectrum,” traces color’s assimilation into the intellectual property regime over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Beginning with the invention of synthetic dye production during the Second Industrial Revolution and concluding with the U.S. Supreme Court decision permitting color trademarks in 1995, it maps the different ways that color became embedded in institutional regimes of valuation and appropriation—whether as a matter of cultural significance, aesthetic taste, or the manufacture, marketing, and pricing of goods. The project also introduces the sociological concept of “propertization”—the social process by which formerly unowned things are transformed into property—as a form of economic accumulation transacted through moral justification rather than market exchange.

In addition to her training in sociology, she holds an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, with a focus on the ethics and international governance of knowledge production. She has previously conducted research and policy analysis at the World Intellectual Policy Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and UNIFEM, the former UN Development Fund for Women in New York. Her work appears in the Annual Review of Sociology and New Geographies: Journal of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has been supported through grants and fellowships from the North American Mobility Project as well as the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought and the Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies at the New School.