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Queering Prison Abolition, Now?

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We occasionally publish “Currents” in American Quarterly, which are intended as timely forms of writing that contribute and intervene in contemporary issues of importance to scholars in American studies. It is our hope that “Currents” will provide a forum for debates over the directions of the field and how the interdisciplinary field of American studies defines itself and is defined by others. The following is a conversation among the intellectuals and activists Eric A. Stanley, Dean Spade, Andrea J. Ritchie, Joey L. Mogul, and Kay Whitlock, about queer abolitionist politics. The scholars and organizers involved wanted to mark this particular moment as a coalescence of years of organizing, struggling, and building a radically queer abolitionist politics. The piece is written jointly, to highlight how this analysis, and abolition in general, is a collective endeavor. The following conversation was conducted by e-mail in November 2011.
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... We utilize CDA to analyze a corpus of 121 letters of complaint and self-advocacy authored by Natasha and explore the discursive strategies she employed to construct an affirming selfidentity through a deliberate campaign to effect social change within the carceral system. We acknowledge the scholarship of other trans scholars, activists, advocates, and prison abolitionists that have similarly sought to campaign to effect social change (Stanley and Smith 2015;Stanley, Spade, and Queer (In)Justice 2012). We diverge from prior scholarship published in Ethos in focusing our research within a carceral environment where demonstrating self-identity is largely curtailed. ...
... This paper forms part of a larger body of scholarship focusing on the discriminatory and inhumane policies governing trans persons incarcerated in Australia and the US. Inspired by the scholarly work of trans scholars, activists, advocates, and prison abolitionists that have sought to campaign for social change within the carceral system (Stanley and Smith 2015;Stanley, Spade, and Queer (In)Justice 2012), the authors of this paper comprise a research team collectively committed to documenting the lived experiences of incarcerated trans persons and dismantling the oppressive policies still practiced in our carceral institutions. Our scholarship spans disciplines of gender and trans studies, sociology, clinical and health psychology, education, epidemiology, behavioral sciences, public health, medical anthropology, criminology, and critical policy analysis. ...
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This case study provides a critical discourse analysis of 121 letters of complaint and self‐advocacy authored by Natasha Keating, a trans woman incarcerated in two Australian male correctional facilities from 2000 to 2007. During her incarceration, Natasha experienced victimization, misgendering, microaggression, and institutional discrimination. Despite this, Natasha embodied and “fought” against the injustices she experienced, whilst seeking to speak for other trans incarcerated persons also silenced and treated with indifference, contributing to changes in the carceral system. This original case study analyzes the discursive strategies Natasha employed to construct and reclaim an affirming self‐identity through a deliberate campaign to effect social change and policy concessions within a system designed to curtail self‐determination. Through her empathic and impassioned letter‐writing approach, leveraging a military metaphor, this novel analysis showcases the significant implications her activism/agentism and determination had in naming and seeking to dismantle the systems of oppression trans incarcerated women experience.
... Some universities, such as Spelman College, have divested from the NCAA and instead invested resources into campus health and community wellness (Rick, 2018). We can look toward abolitionist organizing for how sport can be used in different, liberatory, or educative ways (Davis, 2011;Stanley & Spade, 2012). For instance, youth sport leagues are often organized in a way that is similar to a mutual aid network, and autonomous community sport leagues can provide points of connection for community members. ...
Chapter
This chapter argues that change both within and outside of the mental health care system is necessary. Based on the analysis of participant narratives and chart documentation presented in Chapters 4 and 5 respectively, the concluding chapter discusses the necessary change within the mental healthcare system to make it more liveable for 2SLGBTQ people. Drawing on participant narratives from study one about mutual aid and collective care within queer and trans communities, this chapter also explores the ways mad queer and trans people create effective community responses to distress. This chapter explicates the problems with carceral and state-interventionist responses to acute distress and suicidality and describes recent initiatives that offer other ways to respond. The book ends with a call to those invested in social justice for 2SLGBTQ people to interrogate the biomedical model of mental illness beyond the depathologization of gender and sexual dissidence and to further explore the emancipatory promise of queer and trans madness.
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Article
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Current trends in women’s criminalization reflect historical patterns of racism, gender conformity, and enforcing normality. This paper traces key shifts in policy and discourse on women’s punishment in the United States from the mid 19th century to contemporary times. Additionally, this paper reflects on social work’s role in the history of responding to criminalized women and its involvement in prison reform efforts. I argue that the profession’s reform efforts on behalf of criminalized women operate as a form of carceral humanism, enabling expansion of the carceral state. To meaningfully challenge mass incarceration, social work must engage anti-carceral/abolitionist politics and praxis.
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How do we prepare young people to work for a better world? The time is right for a new way of thinking about the curriculum of social and civic education. In this book, we present a global vision for education, one that can guide students in the pursuit of societal justice and harmony. Drawing from diverse philosophical and cultural traditions, including Confucianism and Indigenous philosophies, as well as empirical research, we introduce curriculum principles designed to motivate and inform students’ thoughtful and compassionate deliberation of public issues. This book is for classroom teachers, curriculum developers, education officials, and all those who are interested in preparing students for public life. These curriculum principles will resonate with educators around the world, in fields such as civics/citizenship, geography, history, and other social sciences, as well as those who emphasize human rights, sustainability, peace education, cultural diversity, moral and character education, and other societal concerns.