„Carceral Feminisms & Transformative Alternatives“ Seminar

Because it is a pet project of mine to compare U.S. and German politics…

Because the inspirations for alternatives to the criminal legal system for survivors of violence which we’ve found in community accountability were seeded and grown in U.S. soil…

Because we want to seed and grow alternatives here in our Berlin soil, too…

…So we need to understand better how State violence in our context here in Germany works, how it relates to and diverges from State violence in the U.S.

Because after New Years Eve in Köln, suddenly everybody cares about sexual violence, and after Orlando, suddenly everybody cares about queer folks and I’m like – no fucking thank you, not in my name.

Because I’m curious about how calls to protect women and queer folks from violence are used to criminalize and increase law enforcement violence against communities of color and migrant communities…

Because we don’t want to let our communities be turned against one another in a divide-and-conquer strategy…

Because I want a feminism more clever than carceral feminism and a queer politics more radical than queer punitivity

Because the State sells us safety in the form of a brutal and punitive security regime: prisons, borders, and police…

Because State “protection” often reinforces our passivity and dependency on someone else to make us safe…

Because we need to reclaim an idea of “safety” based on our own empowerment and strategies from within our communities…

… I’m teaching this class: “Feminism and the State: Carceral Feminisms and Transformative Alternatives,” at the Zentrum für transdisziplinäre Geschlechterstudien (Center for transdisciplinary Gender Studies) at Humboldt University. Click here to see what we’re reading.

We know mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex are out of control in the U.S., but what is going on here with law enforcement violence in Germany? In order to make connections between the Berlin and U.S. contexts, I invited several amazing activist-thinkers to the seminar as guest speakers.

These included:

Nadija Samour (jurist of color, Palästina Netzwerk Berlin)

Judith (prison abolitionist, affiliated with Against Repression Against Prisons & Kiralina)

Lisa Monz (of our very own Transformative Justice Kollektiv & the Antirassistische Initiative Berlin)

Jen Petzen (Lesbenberatung Berlin)

Jaya Chakravarti (active in the Berlin queer POC community)

Members of LesMigraS, Antidiskriminierungs- und Antigewaltbereich der Lesbenberatung Berlin

Many of the guest and student contributions to the seminar were recorded so that their knowledge can be shared with all of y’all. I will be posting their brilliance here on the blog over the next few weeks in the lead-up to our big panel event on the 24. of July, “What would really make us safe?”

xx Melanie from the TJ Crew

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