"Dancing in one spot number 6" by Ashon Crawley

Spirituality and Abolition – Call for Submissions

A Call for Submissions for an issue of the Abolition journal on “Spirituality and Abolition,” to be edited by Ashon Crawley.

Abolition is a spiritual practice, a spiritual journey, a spiritual commitment. What does abolition mean and how can we get there as a collective and improvisational project, how can we define it and get there as a desired and desirous practice? To make a claim for abolition as spiritual practice, journey and commitment is to consider the ways abolition — in the historical and contemporary sense including movements against slavery, prisons, the wage system, animal and earth exploitation, racialized, gendered, and sexualized violence, and the death penalty; movements against patriarchy, capitalism, heteronormativity, ableism, colonialism, the state, white supremacy, etc. — necessitates epistemologies that have been foreclosed through violent force by Western thought of philosophical and theological kinds, it is to claim that the material conditions that will produce abolition are necessarily Black, Indigenous, queer and trans, feminist, and also about disabled and other non-conforming bodies in force and verve.

This Call for Submissions asks: what can prison abolition teach us about spiritual practice, spiritual journey, spiritual commitment? And, what can these things underscore about the struggle for abolition as a desired manifestation of material change in worlds we inhabit currently? To ask about the relation between abolition and spirituality is not to contend fundamentally with particular doctrines, creeds or theologies rooted in particularities of religious traditions, though those traditions in their particularities might create a path in the direction of such an idea and imagined possibility. It is to consider the ways abolition provides a framework for thinking with and also against the strictures of doctrine, creeds and theologies that have us contend against each other for purportedly squandered resources of imagined connection. To consider the relation of abolition to spiritual practice, spiritual journey, spiritual commitment, is to underscore the resurgence, survivance, reparation, and oppositional futurities of Black, Indigenous, queer and trans, feminist, and also about disabled and other non-conforming bodies imagination, being in worlds otherwise. We seek essays, poetry, artwork and reflections that attempt to think through these relations and relationalities.

Please submit abstracts to Ashon Crawley – [email protected] – by November 1, 2018.

Final submissions will be due by March 1, 2019.

The image above is a painting titled “Dancing in one spot number 6” by Ashon Crawley.

Read More

Democracy Against Representation: A Radical Realist View

by Paul Raekstad

Abstract: 

In recent years, radical movements from the Arab Spring to Occupy and beyond have been calling for “democracy.” These movements also claim to reject representation—a keystone of many contemporary liberal understandings of democracy. How can we make sense of this? There is ongoing debate about this in these movements and their descendants, part of which consists in figuring out what we should take “democracy” to mean. This article tries to contribute to this process of collective self-clarification by reconstructing one notion of what we could take “democracy” to mean. Thereafter, we will see how we can use this concept to make sense of the critique of representation in many contemporary radical movements and how useful it can be for helping to guide social change and the practices seeking to bring it about. I will thus argue that a coherent conception of democracy can be found, and that it can be a powerful tool both for understanding and critiquing the shortcomings of contemporary societies and for guiding our efforts to overcome them.

Read More

Already Something More: Heteropatriarchy and the Limitations of Rights, Inclusion, And the Universal

There have been significant expansions in civil and human rights for queer and trans people, yet systemic power relations that cause violence and harm continue. How might we account for this contradiction? This article examines how this problem does not exist in the “misapplication of rights” but rather in the root connections between heteropatriarchy, settler colonialism, and universal rights. This article argues, by way of engagement with a genealogical inquiry into the colonial disciplining of “civility” through the imposition of the gender binary and heterosexuality, that demands for LGBT inclusion into the sphere of universal protection via rights-based redress is inherently limited because of its colonial construction. This article builds from contemporary queer and trans critique of the mainstream gay rights agenda, and aims to demonstrate that incorporation through the achievement of rights-based inclusion ultimately will not shift the deeper power dynamics of heteropatriarchy within settler colonialism.

Read More

Albert Ponce speaks at a DACA event at Diablo Valley College on Sept. 7, 2017. (Photo by Olivier Alata)

Abolition Collective Statement of Support for Albert Ponce

Last October, Albert Ponce, a member of the Abolition Collective, who teaches at Diablo Valley College, gave a lecture on campus, addressing the historical reality of the United States as a white supremacist, patriarchal, heteronormative, capitalist system. This lecture was recorded, and subsequently shared across social media by an array of alt-right, white supremacist forces who, emboldened by the current political landscape, have seized the opportunity to harass him.

Prof. Ponce has become the target of a racist internet troll campaign run by Red Elephant, Breitbart News and others, and has been subjected to hundreds of death threats. He has been subjected to doxxing since December of last year.

The Abolition Collective unequivocally supports Albert Ponce and his body of work. We defend his speech not only on the grounds of academic freedom and free speech, but even more strongly on the basis of its political content.

Read More

Burn it Down: Abolition, Insurgent Political Praxis, and the Destruction of Decency

“Let us burn this motherfucking system to the ground and build something better.”

-Claire Vaye Watkins

In this article, the authors examine the ways in which the state, broadly understood as a technique, practice, and effect of modern governance and its optimization, creates impossible conditions for radical political transformation in the U.S. To illustrate these conditions, the authors show how the state relies upon notions of decency or civility to enact and elide blatant colonialism. The authors draw from the following examples to advance this argument: the “EPA Spill” or the ongoing environmental genocide shaping life across occupied Indigenous lands in the U.S. Southwest; the surprising, yet all too ordinary, election of President Trump; and the racist detainment of children from Central America in the name of humanitarian “law and order.” The authors contend that because these acts illustrate how Euro-American colonial norms continue to shape everyday violence, abolition as a praxis and vision must contend with how to burn down all of the mechanics of contemporary governance, to cooperatively dismantle the state as such, before promoting alternative social systems and political worlds. One way that the authors propose to accomplish this is to incinerate decency as an organizing precept for democracy, civic comportment, and political participation.

Read More

Meeting Mumia Abu-Jamal: The most well known political prisoner in the US

He was Mumia Abu-Jamal, an award winning journalist, a former member of the Black Panther Party and the most well-known political prisoner in the U.S. We were two Black women, who were members of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home (CBMH), a grassroots organization formed by scholar-activist Johanna Fernandez in 2012 to bridge Mumia’s long standing support base in the movement to free political prisoners with a new generation of young people fighting to end mass incarceration. CBMH members had been placed on Mumia’s list of authorized visitors and serendipitously, me and Sophia’s names had been the first two to be cleared. For years we had occasionally written to Mumia and spoken to him on the phone when he called into conference calls, meetings or events. The opportunity to meet him in the flesh had pushed us out of our beds at 5am that chilly fall morning and jump started an unforgettable journey.

Read More

Abolitionist Agency of (Political) Prisoners

The Abolition Collective is helping to highlight the agency of the incarcerated in abolitionisms of incarceration/policing/executions. We also support the right of the incarcerated to teach about abolitionism. A forthcoming Blog on the Abolitionist Agency of (Political) Prisoners invites contributions in prose, analysis, poetry, visual culture. Questions raised for consideration include: Where do the analyses of […]

Read More