The Abolitionist South (Fall 2021)

Guest Editors:
T. Dionne Bailey (Colgate)
& Garrett Felber (University of Mississippi)

Deadline for Submissions: November 30, 2020

Southern Cultures encourages submissions from scholars, writers, and artists for The Abolitionist South, to be published Fall 2021. For The Abolitionist South, we seek submissions that make visible a radical US South which has long envisioned a world without policing, prisons, or other forms of punishment. As PIC (prison industrial complex) abolitionist Angela Davis has pointed out, radical simply means “grasping things at the root.” A region so often exceptionalized for its brutality and white supremacy is also the seedbed of freedom dreams and radical movement traditions.

Alongside the South’s long continuum of unfreedom are histories of care, mutual aid, and cooperative and sustainable living. The chain gang and the penal farm were places of unspeakable captivity and torture, but also fugitivity, sabotage, refusal, and the blues. The notorious plantation-style prisons of Angola and Parchman are imprinted with the sounds of freedom songs and the memories of freedom riders. In Florida, struggles against interpersonal and state violence have resulted in the successful campaign to free criminalized domestic violence survivor Marissa Alexander and the recent protests over the police killing of Tony McDade. In 2016, the Free Alabama Movement launched one of the largest prison strikes in recent decades. Since 2017, Southerners on New Ground (SONG) has led a national movement to bail out Black mothers and caregivers on Mother’s Day. Last year, 680 mostly-Indigenous immigrants were arrested and torn from their families in Mississippi during the largest workplace ICE raids in US history. Yet these communities have formed economic cooperatives and initiated Know Your Rights trainings in response. And despite the devastating economic and health effects of post-industrial coal country, a local coalition in Letcher County, Kentucky, defeated the most expensive federal prison siting effort ever.

We conceive of this as a “movement issue,” highlighting and reflecting upon abolitionist work in the US South (broadly conceived, both past and present). We especially encourage submissions from incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and directly impacted people; and from grassroots organizers, artists, musicians, and activists.

Submissions can explore any topic or theme, and we welcome explorations of the region in the forms Southern Cultures publishes: scholarly articles, memoir, interviews, surveys, photo essays, and shorter feature essays.

Possible topics and questions to explore might include (but are not limited to):

  • Abolition as practice
  • Abolitionist spaces and rethinking how one might understand the South
  • Anticarceral and Black radical feminisms
  • Anti-risk assessment
  • Books to prisons programs and radical study
  • Death penalty abolitionism
  • Decriminalizing sex work
  • Disability justice
  • Immigration justice
  • Land and reparations
  • Mass bailouts and community bond funds
  • Music, art, dance, and food as expressions of abolition
  • Mutual aid and responses to COVID-19
  • Prison as a structure of gender
  • Prison labor and worker solidarity
  • Prison litigation and jailhouse lawyering
  • Queer resistance
  • Radio call-in shows and other forms of community and solidarity across walls
  • Reconstruction and abolition democracy
  • Reproductive justice
  • Resisting “E-Carceration” and other carceral technologies such as ankle shackles and risk assessment algorithms

As Southern Cultures publishes digital content, we encourage creativity in coordinating print and digital materials in submissions and ask that authors submit any potential video, audio, and interactive visual content with their essay or introduction/artist’s statement. We encourage authors to gain familiarity with the tone, scope, and style of our journal before submitting.

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