Radical Teaching about the Prison Industrial Complex
The idea that prisons and jails are a standard tool for punishment and the creation of public safety is overwhelmingly familiar from their relentless representations in television, news media, and film. And for many people, especially those in poor, working class, and communities of color, they are experienced as a feature of the contemporary landscape. However, prisons, and the policing and surveillance techniques used in conjunction with confinement are far from natural ways to address social and economic problems. The policies and techniques of caging and controlling people through what activists and scholars have come to call the prison industrial complex (PIC) are socially, politically, and historically contingent.
While prisons and policing are still widely taken for granted and seen as necessary in the US, it is also increasingly common for discussions to focus on the idea that too many people in the US are in prisons and jails. Much of this discussion focuses on the reform of a system articulated as "broken." This cluster of Radical Teacher seeks to explore the complexities of and compelling reasons for shifting focus from reform to the abolition of the PIC and other radical approaches to teaching about and around prisons, policing, surveillance, etc. We seek articles that take some of the following questions into consideration:
*What kinds of arguments are compelling in the classroom about the possibilities for abolishing the PIC?
*What happens when the idea of abolition is raised? What are tools for opening up conversation and debate?
*How do arguments and strategies for reform become a part of-and too often the center of-the conversation?
*What comprise historical antecedents, parallels, connections, and disconnections between the PIC abolition movement and other abolition movements? How can such links be productively deployed in the classroom?
*What are the challenges of engaging abolition as a possibility or a provocation? What other radical perspectives on teaching about the PIC can break with liberal reformism?
*The PIC is a particular capitalist formation which, like the Health-Industrial Complex, turns peoples' problems and suffering into profit. How can one teach about the PIC as a way of teaching about contemporary U.S. capitalism?
We know it is not necessarily always possible to directly address abolition of the PIC in a teaching and learning environment, and so we are interested in articles that take abolition and other radical approaches-as opposed to prison reform or education in prison-as a common point of departure to explore the methodologies, challenges, and possibilities presented in various contexts. As such, articles can address the issue of radical teaching about the PIC in classrooms of all kinds, as well as in workshops, trainings, workplaces, etc.
Send proposals, ideas, and manuscripts to Shana Agid , Kate Drabinski , and Michael Bennett . Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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