Punishment and Death:
A Radical History Review Special Edition Call For Papers
It is no coincidence that the United States, the world’s hyperpower with a long history of racial slavery, has developed the most thoroughly carceral society in human history. Indeed, US domestic policing of the poor and of non-white is in keeping with its expeditionary global ambition: penal networks flourish with support from right-wing media, strategies of racist social exclusion, felon disenfranchisement, technological surveillance, mandatory minimum sentences, and popular support for the death penalty. While the United States leads the world in the proliferation and range of its penal strategies, it is by no means alone its desire to silence dissent or to deploy forces and ideologies of order. Indeed, China, Israel, Columbia, the Philippines and the United Kingdom have all developed intensified new carceral practices in recent years. With this global scope in mind, we solicit material from authors describing and intervening in penal conditions across the spectrum of economic centers and political peripheries, across historical periods. Thus, this issue of the Radical History Review aims to deepen our historical and political understanding of modes of punishment across the globe.
This issue of the Radical History Review demands that we take punishment seriously as a factor in racial and political conflict across the planet. In adopting the theme “Punishment and Death,” we underscore the how global systems of racial hierarchy and oppression are held in place through incarceration and execution. In addition, we intend to plumb the meanings and processes of civil death in both liberal and illiberal societies. As Orlando Patterson has claimed in his work on slave societies, and current-day California prisoner Mike Ngo has reiterated, incarceration is, in theoretical terms, a form of death – either emotional, sexual, social, or physical. The social and civic killing exacted through incarceration takes place under the rubric of defending the ethical and natural social order, and those who remain outside prison walls remain comfortably blind to the racial, economic, and political violence on which the liberal state rests.
In this Special Issue of Radical History Review, we are interested in examining the prison as a site of alienation, violence, and death, and in interrogating the processes through which nations and states kill. Yet we are guided by a persistent thought: if prison inmates suffer civil death as well as other kinds of killing, then to whom are they dead? We are every bit as interested in the ways in which the punished persist in living, and in examining prisons as places where radically subordinated populations contest and critique the institutions that hold them. By highlighting the social lives of the incarcerated, we aim to challenge the disappearance that their punishment effects. We recognize that the notion of civil death has its limits—state sanctioned executions are by no means metaphorical and there is no return from the gas chamber or the firing squad. But while incarceration been a powerful and flexible strategy for containing protest and disorder, it has also become a site of radical organizing and protest.
We solicit essays on the following and related themes:
Racial control, race-making and punishment
Prison cultures and the social lives of incarceration
Punishment in the Global War on Terror
Women and incarceration
Colonial / Postcolonial prison systems
Crime, fear and media
Prison building: carceral Keynesianism and for-profit incarceration
Immigrant detention centers and border militarization
The sexuality of punishment, the punishment of sexuality
Global protest and counterterrorism
Prison labor, imprisoned workers
Violence and retributive state ideologies
Liberalism, neoliberalism, and incarceration
Victim’s rights movements and restorative justice
Submissions are not restricted to traditional research articles. We welcome short reports and reflections, documents, photo essays, art and illustrations, interviews with activists or intellectuals, teaching resources including syllabi for courses, original documents, exhibit and book reviews. RHR solicits contributions from activists, independent scholars, as well as from academics.
Materials should conform to RHR style guidelines, available at http://chnm.gmu.edu/rhr/internal/stylesheet.htm and should be submitted electronically, preferably in Microsoft WORD format.
ABSTRACT DEADLINE: January 24, 2005
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: November 2005
REPLY TO: If at all possible, essays should be submitted electronically, as an attachment, with “Issue 96 submission” in the subject line to the e-mail address shown below. For artwork, please submit 3 copies by regular mail to: Punishment and Death/Issue 96, Radical History Review, Tamiment Library, NYU, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012. For preliminary e-mail inquiries, please include “Issue 96” in the subject line.
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