Racial Capitalism and Prison Abolition

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Racial Capitalism and Prison Abolition

Racial Capitalism and Prison Abolition

In this Assignment you must draw from three of the last four readings of the semester: Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s Introduction to Golden Gulag, The Comic Zine “Racial Capitalism and Prison Abolition,” Rachel Kushner’s article Are Prisons Necessary? and Derecka Purnell’s Introduction to Becoming Abolitionists. 

The goal of this assignment is to rethink the relationship between Capitalism and the State, incarceration, and Abolition.  You should be as specific as possible in your essay, avoiding broad general statements, drawing directly from the texts as well as from your own examples.  You may pick one of the two questions below or write a paper that tries to combine the two prompts together. Feel free to set up a meeting with me to discuss how you may want to approach these questions. 

1.     We often focus on profit, private prisons or slavery as the driving forces of mass incarceration. But this is inaccurate. Drawing from Gilmore and the other readings, explain what prisons actually do in contrast to how they are rationalized? How does Gilmore’s rethinking of the role prisons in our society go against the dominant explanation of what prisons are for and why they have expanded over the past few decades? How do prisons and policing serve capitalism? How is race exploited and reproduced through this system? 

2.     How is Abolition a direct response to the system above.  What is Prison Abolition? It is not just the immediate closure of all prisons tomorrow. Abolition is a political orientation and theory of change. Include an explanation of what this theory and political orientation of abolition is.  Drawing from your own research, provide an example of a past or present abolitionist organization, movement or activity. How does this movement and approach help us rethink the role of the state, the effects of capitalism and political change?

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