Prison, Borders, and Piplines: Toward a Queer Abolitionist Movement

deadline for submissions: 
December 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
University of North Carolina, Asheville Queer Studies Conference 2018
contact email: 

Call for Papers and Presentations

UNC Asheville Queer Studies Conference 2018

April 5-7, 2018, Asheville, NC

Prisons, Borders, and Pipelines:
Toward a Queer Abolitionist Movement

LGBTQIA people have been on the front lines of the last hundred years of social, political, and cultural movements. Queer communities have long modeled organizing for change and revolution. In the current moment, while we are in a more explicitly restrictive political climate and movements for freedom gain momentum on the ground, we see the parallels of the struggles against the carceral state and the prison industrial complex, against borders and large-scale detention and deportation, against settler colonialism and the extraction of resources from indigenous lands. These movements fit within the scope of abolition, demanding an end to prisons, borders, and the settler-colonialism. What does it mean to approach these struggles from queer perspectives and within queer experiences? How do prisons, borders, and pipelines affect queer lives? How do state surveillance and repression specifically target, through legal and extralegal means, queer and trans people? How are queer and trans people working to free our communities and others? How are queer experiences and alliances articulated and formed, and what does queer resistance look like at the intersection of these various lines of power and identities?

The UNC Asheville Queer Studies Conference, a biennial event established in 1998, attracts an international audience of activists, academics, and artists who showcase a range of creative and scholarly pursuits related to the study of genders and sexualities. All LGBTQIA-related proposals will be considered. We invite a diverse representation of approaches and participants, including faculty, staff, graduate students, community members and undergraduate students. All formats will be considered, including paper presentations (15 minutes), panels (60 to 75 minutes), workshops, exhibitions, film screenings, and performances. Paper presentations will be organized into groups of 3 to 4. We welcome proposals for papers in English and Spanish.

While we welcome proposals on any topic related to sex and gender, we especially invite papers on our topic of Queer Abolition. Elaborations on the theme might include:


  • How does the legacy of settler-colonialism, nation-state formation, and border drawing intersect with the legal and cultural creation of gendered and sexualized bodies?
  • How does state repression target queer and trans people? Who is criminalized by the carceral state?
  • What are the histories of queer/trans resistance in prisons, on the borders, for indigenous autonomy?
  • As bodies are policed and medicalized, what are the methods of resistance and community care in the fields of health and wellness?
  • Whose stories are told with increased mainstream visibility of queer and trans people? Who is left out?
  • What are the cross-cultural connections among abolitionist and decolonial struggles in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, etc.?
  • How have recent shifts in social/cultural perspectives revealed historical contributions of queer and trans people?


Conference Dates: April 5-7, 2018

Location: University of North Carolina, Asheville, NC

Submission Deadline: December 1, 2017


Registration fees (includes breakfast, snacks and lunch):



full-time faculty, other


graduate students,

contingent faculty,

non-profit professionals

undergraduate students, community members, unemployed or underemployed

Before February 15




After February 15




Single day pass





Presentations may take various forms. We provide more information about several formats below. If you would like to present in a format not listed here, please email us at



Paper Presentation

Panel Presentation


Performance/ exhibition

[1] Proposal limit

500 words

1000 words

1000 words

500 words plus any relevant audio/images, etc.


Paper presentations are limited to 15 minutes each, and will be formed into groups of 3 or 4 by topic

Panel presentations are limited to 90 minutes and consist of 3-4 presenters

Workshops may range from 60-90 minutes

 Performances may range anywhere from 15-90 minutes, please specify in your proposal


Proposals must be submitted online at:

All proposals will be anonymously reviewed by a panel of UNCA faculty. You will be notified about the status of your submission by December 15.  All accepted speakers must confirm their attendance and register for the conference by March 15.

Although North Carolina has been in the news for the HB2 Bill, as well as its partial repeal, Asheville is known as an LGBTQIA-friendly place; in addition, UNC Asheville has a policy on “diversity and inclusion”  and there will be all-gender bathrooms accessible to conference spaces. Detailed information about accommodations will be posted on our website.

For additional information, email questions to Scott Branson:, or Lorena Russell: or visit

Keynote Presenters

Mickyel Micky Bradford


Micky is a magical Black transfemme and army brat, born in Germany yet raised in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia. She joins the TLC@SONG collaboration after working for four years in Atlanta on HIV/AIDS prevention and consulting, LGBTQ youth homelessness, and organizing Queer and Trans artists of color. Politicized while student organizing at Georgia State University in 2012, she was recruited as a youth leader to Spark Reproductive Justice NOW. In 2013, she became one of the founding members and workshop trainers of the Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth. In 2014, her training was tested as the world was immersed in direct action for Black Lives, repeatedly. In 2015, She co-founded the “Southern Fried Queer Pride” festival, organized action at Atlanta Pride andTransLiberation Tuesday and was named one of17 Black Trans Activists Fighting for Liberation .” Her (s)hero-ancestors are Marsha P. Johnson and Grace Jones. She is more determined than ever to get her people their “10s” across the board on the runway to liberation.


Mimi Thi Nguyen “"On the Possibilities and Limits of Resilience”


Mimi Thi Nguyen is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her first book is The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages (Duke University Press, 2012; Outstanding Book Award in Cultural Studies from the Association of Asian American Studies, 2014). Her following project is called The Promise of Beauty. She has also published in Signs, Camera Obscura, Women & Performance, positions, and Radical History Review. Nguyen was recently named a Conrad Humanities Scholar for 2013-2018, a designation supporting the work of outstanding associate professors in the humanities within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Nguyen has made zines since 1991, including Slander (formerly known by other titles) and the compilation zine Race Riot. She is a former Punk Planet columnist and Maximumrocknroll volunteer. In June 2013, Sarah McCarry's Guillotine ("a series of erratically published chapbooks focused on revolutionary non-fiction") released PUNK, a conversation between Nguyen and Golnar Nikpour.


Dean Spade (via Skype) and a panel of local activists, with a screening of Pinkwashing Exposed

Dean Spade is an Associate Professor atSeattle University School of Law, where he teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, and Law and Social Movements. In 2002, Dean founded theSylvia Rivera Law Project, a non-profit law collective that provides free legal services to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people who are low-income and/or people of color. He is strong voice in the current queer and trans abolitionist movement.