Abolition as Method: Fieldwork at the End of the World

SEP 22, 2020 | 6:00 PM TO 7:30 PM



On Zoom


September 22, 2020: 6:00 PM-7:30 PM




The Center for the Study of Women and Society


On the heels of transnational rebellion, “defund the police” has entered the mainstream lexicon as a baseline demand of Black struggle. While police departments across the nation are being held accountable for the harms they have caused, this talk turns our attention to the policing that happens without a badge or a gun, in the daily interactions between young people and the systems that purport to protect them. As a methodological approach, Savannah Shange offers abolitionist anthropology as a scholarly practice that defends Black life. Given the momentum ‘abolition’ has as a political critique of prisons and policing, what does it offer us as scholars trying to apprehend the broader set of violences that compose the current moment? Put another way, what does abolition demand of us?

Savannah Shange is a Black queer feminist scholar who works at the intersections of race, place, sexuality, and the state. She is assistant professor of Anthropology and principal faculty in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at UC Santa Cruz. Her research interests include queer kinship, multiracial coalition, ethnographic ethics, Black femme gender, and abolition. She earned a PhD in Africana Studies and Education from the University of Pennsylvania, a MAT from Tufts University, and a BFA from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. She has been funded by the Hellman Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Fellowship and she has also been a Point Scholar. Her first book, Progressive Dystopia: Abolition, Anti-Blackness and Schooling in San Francisco (https://www.dukeupress.edu/progressive-dystopia) is an ethnography of the afterlife of slavery as lived in the Bay Area. Previously, her research has been published in Women and PerformanceThe Black ScholarTransforming Anthropology, and The Feminist Wire. She is a proud alum of BYP100, and serves on the Advisory Board of Black Feminist Future.

Co-sponsored with the PhD Programs in Anthropology and Urban Education, The Graduate Center Library, and the PublicsLab.

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