Back to All Events

Feminisms Unbound: Black Women and the Carceral State

Black Women and the Carceral State

This roundtable considers the totality of the carceral state, from the vantage point of black women’s histories, testimonies, experiences and creative works.  Black women’s fraught relationship to the state has often existed invisibly within the intersectional axes of marginalization, and been submerged beneath the specter of race, class, gender, and sexuality.  Three interdisciplinary scholars will gather to ponder all of the mechanisms of the prison system, from its long historical trajectory to literary and visual representations. The event promises to be a far-reaching discourse on the frameworks of restriction and containment that impact black women and the lives they attempt to control.

About the Roundtable Participants: 

Sarah Haley, Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

Sarah Haley is Assistant Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on black feminist analyses of the U.S. carceral state from the late nineteenth century to the present, black women and labor, and black radical traditions and organizing. She received her PhD in African American Studies and American Studies and her research has been supported by a number of organizations including the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Ford Foundation, The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, and Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies.  She has also worked as a paralegal for the New York Office of the Federal Public Defender and as a labor organizer with UNITE-HERE.  Her writing has appeared in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society.  Her first book, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity, examines the lives of imprisoned women in the U.S. South from the 1870s to the 1930s and the role of carcerality in shaping cultural logics of race and gender under Jim Crow.  She is working on a book that examines the relationship between domesticity and the rise of mass incarceration in the late twentieth century 

Aneeka A. Henderson
Assistant Professor of Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies, Amherst College

Aneeka A. Henderson is Assistant Professor of Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Amherst College. Through an analysis of late 20th and early 21st century fiction, film, music, and art, Professor Henderson’s book manuscript, Wedding Bell Blues: Race, and the Modern Marriage Plot unmasks how black women’s bodies and family formation are politicized and made public by popular discourse and government regulation of the so-called private sphere. Broadly, her work constructs a new paradigm for interrogating the fraught relationship between black female subjectivity and the institution of marriage as well as understanding the social forces shaping late 20th and early 21st century fiction and culture. 

Kelli Moore
Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University

Kelli Moore is Assistant Professor at NYU in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication where she examines the role of media technology in the production of legal and political knowledge. She is at work on a monograph that about courtroom mediation that examines the role of the image in facilitating the performance of witness testimony in domestic violence cases. She earned her Ph.D. in Communication at the University of California, San Diego. Kelli is a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Rhetoric at Berkeley. Her work can be found at Anglistica, Reviews in Cultural Theory, and Feminist Surveillance Studies (Duke University Press, 2015).

Moderator: Kimberly Juanita Brown
Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies, Mount Holyoke College

Kimberly Juanita Brown is Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies at Mount Holyoke College. Her research gathers at the intersection of contemporary black diasporic literature, critical race theory and visual culture studies. Her book The Repeating Body: Slavery’s Visual Resonance in the Contemporary (Duke University Press) examines contemporary representations of slavery that emphasize the repetition of black women’s corporeal practices in the aftermath of the event of slavery. She is currently at work on a second project examining images of the dead on the cover of the New York Times in 1994. Tentatively titled Their Dead Among Us: Photography, Melancholy, and the Politics of the Visual, this project explores the photographic dispossession of the body of the other and the patterns of exclusion engendered by these ocular practices.  

About Feminisms Unbound

This Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (GCWS) initiative, Feminisms Unbound, is an annual event series featuring debates that focus on feminist concerns, theories, and practices in this contemporary moment.  This series is intended to foster conversations and community among Boston-area feminist intellectuals and activists. The series, in its open configuration, endeavors to allow the greatest measure of engagement across multiple disciplinary trajectories, and a full array of feminist investments.  

The event organizers, who are also visiting scholars with the GCWS this year, are Kimberly Juanita Brown, Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies, Mount Holyoke College, Lisa Lowe, Professor of English and American Studies, Tufts University, and Jyoti Puri, Professor of Sociology, Simmons College, have programmed the four events in this series.