CHAPTER PROPOSALS ARE INVITED FOR AN EDITED VOLUME TITLED STATES AND PRISONS: HUMANITIES AND CARCERAL IMAGINARIES

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Shreerekha Subramanian/University of Houston-Clear Lake

This edited anthology explores the nexus between violence and carcerality within the discursive order of state practices. Scholars within humanities, engaging with critiques of carcerality in relation to state violence from different global contexts are welcome to contribute to this anthology. This volume aims to align with the larger objectives envisioned by activist groups such as M4BL (Movement for Black Lives): building alliances with indigenous people’s struggles, political prisoners’ solidarity work, and activists resisting violence against women and LGBTQIA communities. It explores the potential to forge a global discursive order oriented toward anticolonial liberation struggles.

 

The black feminist collective of the 1970s that just celebrated its fortieth anniversary, Combahee River Collective’s manifesto, offers one of multiple theoretical passports through which one negotiates carceral imaginaries, recognizes imperialism and the violent apparatus of the state-as-prison. This volume seeks out work emerging from humanities and disciplines related to the humanities, including women’s and gender studies, sexuality and queer studies, as well as cultural and critical race studies. The impetus for this volume arises out of the most recent annual conference of NWSA (National Women’s Studies Association) that occurred in Baltimore where the editor led a seminar successfully on this subject. The annual conference was titled, “Forty Years After Combahee: Feminist Scholars and Activists Engage the Movement for Black Lives.” The editor welcomes contributions from the panelists at the seminar titled, “States and Prisons/States as Prisons” as well as scholars and activists who attended NWSA along with those who did not but might feel that their work speaks to these thematics raised by this conference’s call for awareness.

 

The global political momentum, despite recent conversations on reform, rehabilitation and prisoner rights, has made a move to the draconian right, where punitive measures and carcerality are the new normal. The prison industrial complex, outlined and made effective in the US, now extends its oppressive state practices in far-flung corners of the globe wherein cultural capital imported from the west through language of objectivity, scientific authority, and security ensures that more and more of the dispossessed serve time behind the walls. 

 

In a sweeping historical study of American prisons as a continuation of histories of enslavement and convict leasing, Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire, Robert Perkinson writes, “Between 1968 and 2005, however, the rate (of imprisonment) septupled.  Over the same period – even as civil rights organizations and convict plaintiffs scored innumerable victories – Texas’s prison population grew by 1300 percent; its prison budget ballooned from $20 million to $2.6 billion” (365).  Angela Davis’s decades-long grassroots coalition named after W. E. B. DuBois’s “Abolition Democracy” speaks to the ideologies of state power that have permanently kept blacks in a state of servitude and silence in relationship to the state through disenfranchisement, capital extraction, social branding, racial contract, ritual violence, sexual coercion, and surplus repression that bring to light the interconnected systems that concatenate to keep Eurocentric western imperialism in place.  The school to prison pipeline is the targeted way to select certain vulnerable populations, whether they are black, brown, and/or poor who then constitute the bulk masses of the incarcerated who enter the system at high rates, suffer increasingly long sentences within the walls, and are spit out by the state machinery into a public sphere that no longer recognizes them as a citizen-subject.  Instead, they are rendered to the subterranean echelons of an American caste hierarchy Michelle Alexander has now famously labeled the new Jim Crow, because “Once released, former prisoners enter a hidden underworld of legalized discrimination and permanent exclusion.  They are members of America’s new undercaste” (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 13).  In an era where new forms of imperialism are emerging from putatively democratic bastions, albeit flawed democracies at best, of the globe such as India, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Dominican Republic, South Africa and other nation-states, a massive number of mass mobilizations from M4BL, Black Youth Project 100, Pennsylvania Prison Society, INCITE: Women of Color Against Violence, Not Your Mascots, and so many others have rallied together to resist and counterbalance the rising force of the imperial orders and consequent carceral imaginaries.

 

Issues and questions to be discussed include but are not limited to:

 

Prisons and pedagogies within and about the prison; Media in and about prisons; Alternative justice systems; Prison abolition; Carceral texts and imaginaries; Race and Class; Gender and Sexuality; Activisms on and around prisons/prison states/carcerality at large.

 

Please submit a 500 word proposal abstract along with a shortened CV to the editor, Dr. Shreerekha Subramanian at subramanian@uhcl.edu by Mar. 15, 2018. Full-length chapters of 6000-8000 words in Chicago Style will be due by Jul. 15, 2018. The edited anthology is expected to be published in 2019.