"Cox shows that “Black girls’ lives matter” and how their voices articulate that. This ethnographic study of young black women and girls is an essential read and companion to the larger picture of African American lives in urban settings, which are often mired in poverty, crime, and despair. However, this rare study brings hope rather than hopelessness as it delves into the heart of human expression and gives voice to a will to live beyond any limitations of what poverty may dictate in contemporary North America." — M. Christian, Choice Magazine
"This lively book, Cox’s account of her work as a participant-observer in a Detroit homeless shelter for teen girls, reveals both the many obstacles faced by young women of color and the creative ways in which they use self-expression (language, music, fashion, and dance) to find a new way to live otherwise. The stories, harrowing and fascinating, shine a light on the lives of our least empowered citizens—teenage African American girls—while Cox’s thinking helps us see the power of being able to shape-shift." — Anne Fernald, Public Books
"A creative and compelling ethnographic study, Shapeshifters challenges us to revise the ways we think, write, and theorize about young black women, starting with making their voices and self-analyses the subject of the book. Rather than analyzing the girls’ narratives through the lens of academic theories, even those of black feminists, Cox asks that 'we open ourselves up to a conversation with them.'"
— Farah Jasmine Griffin, Public Books
"Shapeshifters is an engaging, powerful read of the lived experience of young Black girls’ lives that intersects with race, class, gender, and agency, providing a fresh perspective on citizenship, change, and standpoint." — Olivia R. Hetzler, Gender & Society
"While so much urban ethnography excludes women altogether, and black women in particular, Shapeshifters centers young black women, not simply as the subject of the book, but as authors of a world. Shapeshifters proceeds from a position in which black life matters, where young women are sharp eyed critics and citizen-subjects all too aware of where their rights and responsibilities are limited or truncated, and further aware (and willing) to adopt the innovative tactics they need to surmount or work around said limitations." — Sameena Mulla, Anthropoliteia
"It is movement—its unpredictability, its interactions with space, and its many evolutions—that organizes Cox’s work and makes it an invaluable contribution to studies of black girlhood, feminist theory, and ethnography." — Danielle Bainbridge, TDR: The Drama Review
"Shapeshifters is a courageous and rich exploration of the lives of power and agency of Black girls and women. . . . A theoretically rich and ethnographically sound body of work." — Denice D. Nabinett, Journal of Negro Education
"Any serious scholar working at the intersection of race and gender, or at the nexus where theories of identity meet conceptualizations of a just and inclusive polity, will benefit from taking the time to engage with Cox’s work."
— John L. Jackson Jr, Chronicle of Higher Education
"In this powerful book, Aimee Meredith Cox boldly re-conceptualizes the very meaning of 'public anthropology' in the twenty-first century. With vibrant, nuanced, and crackling ethnographic material, Shapeshifters offers a poignant telling of these women's stories." — John L. Jackson, Jr., author of Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem
"In this powerful and passionate book Aimee Meredith Cox communicates important messages about the integrity and humanity of black girls, their potential, and the ways this potential is variously thwarted, squeezed, bounced, and redirected. Rich in detail and at times hilarious, painful, and revealing, Cox's ethnography provides an account of the ways girls move through the obstacle course of poverty, racism, and gender violence to create and imagine lives for themselves."
— Elizabeth Chin, author of Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture