Against the Carceral
is a meditation upon what author Damien M. Sojoyner calls the
“carceral archival project,” offering a distillation of critical,
theoretical, and activist work of prison abolitionists over the past
three decades. Working from collections at the Southern California
Library (Black Panthers, LA Chapter; the Coalition Against Police
Abuse; Urban Policy Research Institute; Mothers Reclaiming Our
Children; and the collection of geographer Clyde Woods), it builds
upon theories of the archive to examine carcerality as the dominant
mode of state governance over Black populations in the United States
since the 1960s.
chapter takes up an element of the carceral archive and its
destabilization, destruction, and containment of Black life: its
notion of the human and the production of “pejorative blackness,”
the intimate connection between police and military in the protection
of racial capitalism and its fossil fuel–based economy, the role of
technology in counterintelligence, and counterinsurgency logics.
Importantly, each chapter also emphasizes the carceral archive’s
fundamental failure to destroy “Black communal logics” and
radical Black forms of knowledge production, both of which contest
the carceral archive and create other forms of life in its midst.
with a statement on the reckoning with the radical traditions of
thought and being which liberation requires, Sojoyner offers a
compelling argument for how the centering of Blackness
enables a structuring of the mind that refuses the violent
exploitative tendencies of Western epistemological traditions as
viable life-affirming practices.