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Accepted Paper:

The Prison Abolition Movement in the U.S.: Women Activists, Violence and Transregional Mobility  
Eva-Maria Hardtmann (Stockholm University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses former incarcerated women activists in the prison abolition movement in the U.S. By giving precedence to transregional mobility and diversity among activists it highlights how movement networks are shaped amidst the dynamic friction and concordance in the contemporary movement.

Paper long abstract:

For decades, U.S. governments have prioritized public security. Although the prison population has begun to stabilize, the U.S. maintains its distinction as the world leader in its use of incarceration. Crime and punishment are high on the political agenda in many countries and politicians of all persuasions discuss harsher sentences for those labelled criminals. This paper, however, aims to give some insights of the role of a social movement that fundamentally challenges these ideas and currently is gaining momentum across the U.S. The prison abolition movement involves a large number of groups and networks, including senior activists in the Black Panthers of the 1960s and 1970s, youths identifying as Black Americans, and young Latin Americans and white youths. The movement is partly run by formerly incarcerated women activists, and the paper describes ethnographically the annual four-day conference Beyond Bars at Columbia University in 2017 and also in 2018, with scholars and hundreds of formerly incarcerated activists from across the country. Activists in different states (such as New York, Louisiana and California) are situated in contexts with diverse laws and views on criminality and gun possession. They belong to diverse social movement histories - radical or reformist - depending on region, as well as to different generations. Their views on society, the state and violence have thus to be negotiated. This paper gives precedence to transregional mobility among activists, and highlights how movement networks are shaped amidst the dynamic friction and concordance in the contemporary prison abolition movement.

Panel P135
Itinerant activism: movement, collaboration and discordance
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -