African Feminisms for Abolitionist Futures

Hosted by the Department of Gender Studies

CBG. B1.02


 SM Rodriguez

SM Rodriguez

Assistant Professor of Gender, Rights and Human Rights, Department of Gender Studies


Aiko Holvikivi

Aiko Holvikivi

Assistant Professor in Gender, Peace and Security, Department of Gender Studies

Prison or penal abolition is not just a goal, but an epistemology and ontology. It is a way of knowing how we can be in relationship to others, a way of practicing such a be-ing.

African women, particularly those who have been imprisoned, have offered glimpses into the abolitionist imagination and tradition for centuries, in their resistance to violence, conquest and coloniality. In maroonage, we learn that coalition creates opportunities for the daily counter to the plantation political economy and its current manifestations. We relearn the value inherent to life and build the interdependence, connection and compassion necessary to humanise others in a dehumanising system.

In this talk, I retell histories of imprisoned revolutionary women alongside African philosophies that inform us of the nature of interconnected being, ethics and justice. I put forward that women of African descent have been naming prisons as a central place of perpetual imperialist oppression. Using a lens that critiques ‘corrective violence’, I argue that criminalisation stems from the colonial carceral legacy that attempts to sort racialised bodies into troubled sexes, with the aim of disciplining African behaviour to be more suitable for exploitation. Abolition, on the other hand, is a vision grounded in alternative modes of living. As such, I stretch the conversation of abolition away from a narrow thought of decarceration to a comprehensive movement against corrective violence.

This is a closed event for Department of Gender Studies students and staff only as part of our Welcome Week programme. Information about accessing a recording of the event afterwards will be available on the Gender Department website: 


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