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Feminism and The State: Carceral Feminisms and Transformative Alternatives

Melanie Brazzell
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Summer Semester 2016

After the public reactions to the sexual violence in Köln on New Years, we have to ask ourselves a few hard questions: How can ‘good ideas’ like protecting survivors of violence go so very wrong by supporting racist policing and security regimes? What happens when feminism goes ‘mainstream’ and works together with the State? How do feminist politics come to collaborate in State violence against people of color, particularly trans and cis women? This course will look at the question of feminism’s relationship to the State through current discussions in the U.S. about feminist and anti-violence collaboration in the prison industrial complex, with comparisons to the German context. We’ll use sociological, philosophical, and activist approaches to explore this ‘carceral feminism’, as well as what might lie beyond it, answers we will seek in the prison abolition, community accountability, & transformative justice movements. A number of Berlin-based activist-thinkers have been invited to present their perspectives and explore potential connections between the U.S. and our own context.

Visit the PDF version of Feminism & The State: Carceral Feminisms and Transformative Alternatives to access the full syllabus.

See also: The “What Really Makes Us Safe” Project and the Community Accountability and Transformative Justice Collective.


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