Jun 20, 2005

"Visions of a world free of incarceration" [LINK]

Promotional text for The New Abolitionists: (Neo)Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings, edited by Joy James and published by the SUNY Press:

"If you think modern slavery in the United States is a thing of the past, then The New Abolitionists ought to be mandatory reading. Joy James has done an incredible service by bringing together key writings by prison intellectuals over the past half century. The pieces she selected are not just descriptive but prescriptive: the book is chock full of manifestoes, strategies, political analyses, and visions of a world free of incarceration. Like the slave narratives of 150 years ago, these writings demand action.”
— Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

This collection of essays and interviews provides a frank look at the nature and purposes of prisons in the United States from the perspective of the prisoners. Written by Native American, African American, Latino, Asian, and European American prisoners, the book examines captivity and democracy, the racial “other,” gender and violence, and the stigma of a suspect humanity. Contributors include those incarcerated for social and political acts, such as conscientious objection, antiwar activism, black liberation, and gang activities. Among those interviewed are Philip Berrigan, Marilyn Buck, Angela Y. Davis, George Jackson, and Laura Whitehorn.

“The book offers us a theoretical analysis of the word ‘abolition’ in a much wider frame than prisons themselves. Both James’s introduction and the words of the prison intellectuals tell us that they are not so much concerned only with the dismantling of the incarceration factories, but that they also see these holding pens as nodal points in the state of disenfranchisement that is the modern world.”
— Vijay Prashad, author of The Karma of Brown Folk

Nice, by the way, the wholly unnecessary use of parentheses in coining the word (Neo)Slave, as if one needs to highlight its controversy. Would it be too strong to suggest that this volume trivializes slavery?

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