2022 Quarry Farm Symposium “Abolition Studies”


The Ninth Quarry Farm Symposium “Abolition Studies” sought to take an intentionally transhistorical approach to the field of abolition studies through panels and discussions that attend to the long duree of abolitionist thought, activism, and organizing from the 19th to the 21st centuries. While there is robust scholarship on movements to abolish chattel slavery in the US before 1865, and there is growing interest – both scholarly and popular – in late 20th- and 21st-century prison and police abolition, this symposium looked to explicitly bring these two historical epochs into conversation across what Saidya Hartman has called “the nonevent of emancipation” towards richer analysis of, for example, carcerality, rights, social and civil death, enclosure, and criminalization. The symposium was especially interested in presentations that rigorously trouble the very notion of continuity, recognizing both the persistence of what Douglas A. Blackmon has called “slavery by another name” as well as the continuing “acts of resistance and sabotage” against racial terror and carceral capture identified by Sarah Haley and others occurring in the decades of transition from the late 19th to the early 20th century. That is, it invited analysis not only of forces of capture but also of resistance.

With this long history of mechanisms of captivity and modes of radical resistance in mind, thesymposium emphasized the interconnecting relationship between abolitionist movements working against the enduring legacies of U.S. racism in carceral forms from the 19th to the 21st centuries. And in recognition of recent insightful work in the field of critical prison and carcerality studies by thinkers including Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Erica Meiners, Liat Ben-Moshe, Kelly Lytle Hernández, Harsha Walia, Savannah Shange, Luana Ross, Eric Stanley, and others, we seek to enrich understandings of how carceral logics and institutions develop and expand across time to iterate in ever greater spaces of both public and private life.


Includes abstracts, images, and professional bios


Sarah Haley, “Gender and the Abolitionist Present”

SESSION ONE: 19th-Century Carceral Histories

Alex Alston, “Animal Afterlives: 19th Century Abolitionism & The Discourse of Species”

Margarita Lila Rosa, “Riotous Women, Criminalization, and the Voyeuristic Press in 1890s California”

SESSION TWO: Anti/Carceral Texts

LaVelle Ridley, “Imaginative Abolition, Political Life Writing, and Black Trans Feminist Blueprints”

remus jackson, “‘This is the kind of society I’m looking for, anyway’: Krysta Morningstarr & The Radical Potential of Prisoner’s Comics”

Srimayee Basu, “The Entanglements of Emancipation and Juvenile Discipline in the Early Black Prison Memoir”


Michelle-Velasquez-Potts, “Slow Death and the Domestication of Indefinite Detention”

Kia Turner & Darion Wallace, “Exploring Anti-Carceral Education: Towards Mapping and Historicizing Contemporary Educators’ Theory and Praxis in Abolitionist Terms”

Christopher Paul Harris, “The Last President: Notes on Abolition and the (un)Making of the World System”

SESSION FOUR: 19th-Century Anti-Carceral Literary Critique

Matt Seybold, “Mark Twain, The Abolitionist”

M. Cecilia Azar, “Liberating the Punchline: Abolitionist Practices in Running One Thousand Miles for Freedom

OTHER PAPERS (Not Recorded)

  • Thomas Dichter, “Captivity and Abolition in Boarding School Literature: Between Elmira and Carlisle”
  • Cait N. Parker, “‘In Love, Devotion, and Continuous Struggle’: Revolutionary Lesbian Abolitionists, 1970s-1990s”
  • Henry Washington, Jr. “Criminalis Sequitur Ventrum: Post-Slavery Discipline’s Biological Myth of Origin”