Angela Davis and Prison Abolitionism
Angela Y. Davis’ 2003 book, Are Prisons Obsolete?, is arguably the foundational text for the intellectual and political work being done by the prison abolitionist movement today. More broadly, Davis’ wide-ranging writing and political activism over the past five decades mark her as one of the most important contemporary intellectuals.
In this class, we will survey Davis’ body of work—from early autobiographical writings about her own time as a political prisoner, through ground-breaking books like Women, Race, & Class and Abolition Democracy, to her most recent work on the meaning of freedom—and situate it in the developing context of the prison abolition movement. This course will locate Davis’ work within the Black Radical and Black Marxist traditions as well as in relation to her Frankfurt School teachers, Herbert Marcuse and Theodor Adorno. We will consider Davis’s work and these background currents alongside emerging theoretical and political work on the global prison industrial complex, focusing on her analyses of racial capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism and internationalism, and the role of slavery and the abolitionist movement in the modern understanding of “freedom.” Accompanying texts will include works by writers such as W. E. B. DuBois, Michel Foucault, Cedric Robinson, Joy James, Stuart Hall, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, bell hooks, Banu Bargu, and Michelle Alexander, along Jordan Camp and Christina Heatherton’s recent collection Policing the Planet.
Course ScheduleWednesday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
May 20 — June 10, 2020
Please email us to be placed on the waiting list.
- New York/General
- New Jersey
- Brooklyn Institute for Social Research
68 Jay Street, #308
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Visit by appointment only