Carceral Feminist Enclosures and Abolitionist Openings

Authors: Melanie Brazzell*,
Keywords: community accountability, transformative justice, prison abolition, carceral feminism, State security
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper is based on participatory research with activist-thinkers in the community accountability & transformative justice movement. Developed by women, queer, and trans people of color in the U.S., the movement critiques both the prison industrial complex, and the carceral feminisms that collaborate with it by advocating for police and prisons as solutions to sexualized and gendered violence.

The paper explores how carceral feminism reproduces the geo-moral binaries of the State security regime: safe interiors, feminized private space, and passive victims which must be contained and protected by the State from dangerous exteriors (to both the home and the nation) where criminal male perpetrators lurk. This logic has been internalized by the whitestream, carceral feminist movement, whose “wounded attachments” (Brown 1993) to a victim identity have rendered it dependent on the “masculinist protection” (Young 2007) of the State. However, as globalization unleashes mobilities of capital and human life, State sovereignty is challenged by a disease model of sovereignty where “the border is everywhere” (DeGiorgi 2006) and the State is increasingly unable to police clear boundaries between safe insides and dangerous beyonds.

In developing alternative, abolitionist visions of safety beyond the carceral logic of security, the transformative justice movement emphasizes interrelationships between interpersonal and State violence, insisting that responsibility be collectively held in the space of the community, an idealized figure of resistance to disposability. Rather than dependence on bordered, policed interiors, safety is reconceptualized as a set of tactics to be deployed for increasing survivor self-determination.

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