In Abolitionist Intimacies, El Jones examines the movement to abolish prisons through the Black feminist principles of care and collectivity. Understanding the history of prisons in Canada in their relationship to settler colonialism and anti-Black racism, Jones observes how practices of intimacy become imbued with state violence at carceral sites including prisons, policing and borders, as well as through purported care institutions such as hospitals and social work. The state also polices intimacy through mechanisms such as prison visits, strip searches and managing community contact with incarcerated people. Despite this, Jones argues, intimacy is integral to the ongoing struggles of prisoners for justice and liberation through the care work of building relationships and organizing with the people inside. Through characteristically fierce and personal prose and poetry, and motivated by a decade of prison justice work, Jones observes that abolition is not only a political movement to end prisons; it is also an intimate one deeply motivated by commitment and love.
What People Are Saying
“Abolitionist Intimacies turns purposely woven structure and skillfully crafted poetry and prose into one carefully braided dance. The personal narrative becomes the collective struggle, and the unbelievable becomes the unforgettable. El Jones packs meaning into every word and phrase, intertwined with unwavering undertones of cultural genocide, Black annihilation, and the institutionalized trauma that continues to smother and suppress a people and their intimate and necessary cultural connections. Abolitionist Intimacies calls out and confronts societal realities with a narrative that is authentic and honest. The book’s messages embed themselves deep into a reader’s bones and mind and soul.” Evelyn Richardson Award Citation
“Abolitionist Intimacies is an urgently needed text. Drawing from years of organizing experience, Jones’ work as a Black feminist theorist, activist and scholar skillfully draws attention to the banal violence of carcerality in Canada and the ongoing work of freedom-oriented struggle. With rigour, theoretical agility and a grounded sense of integrity, Jones forwards a poetic vision of intimacy, care, and human liberation, sketching out abolitionist futures beyond policing, prisons, and cages.” Robyn Maynard, author of Policing Black Lives, co-author of Rehearsals for Living
About the Author
El Jones is a poet, journalist, professor and activist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She teaches at Mount Saint Vincent University, where she was named the 15th Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies in 2017. She was Halifax’s Poet Laureate from 2013 to 2015. She is the author of Live from the Afrikan Resistance!, a collection of poems about resisting white colonialism. Her work focuses on social justice issues, such as feminism, prison abolition, anti-racism and decolonization. Since 2016, she has co-hosted a radio show called Black Power Hour, on CKDU-FM where listeners from prisons call in to rap and read their poetry, providing a voice to people who rarely get a wide audience.
Table of Contents
- Introduction Toward a Practice of “Collectivity”
- Chapter 1 Re-collection as Memory
- Chapter 2 Personal Responsibility and Prison Abolition
- Chapter 3 Erasure and the Slow Work of Liberation
- Chapter 4 Abolitionist Intimacies
- Chapter 5 No Justice on Stolen Land: Abolition and Black/Indigenous Solidarity
- Chapter 6 Black Feminist Teachers
- Chapter 7 What is Desire to the Abolitionist?
- Chapter 8 Still Not Freedom