New Bones Abolition: Captive Maternal Agency and the Afterlife of Erica Garner

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    Joy James

    Publisher: Common Notions

    Year: 2023

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 256 pages

    ISBN: 9781942173748

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New Bones Abolition addresses “those of us broken enough to grow new bones” in order to stabilize our political traditions that renew freedom struggles.

Reflecting on police violence, political movements, Black feminism, Erica Garner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, caretakers and compradors, Joy James analyzes the “Captive Maternal,” which emerges from legacies of colonialism, chattel slavery and predatory policing, to explore the stages of resistance and communal rebellion that manifest through war resistance. She recognizes a long line of gendered and ungendered freedom fighters, who, within a racialized and economically-stratified democracy, transform from coerced or conflicted caretakers into builders of movements, who realize the necessity of maroon spaces, and ultimately the inevitability of becoming war resisters that mobilize against genocide and state violence.

New Bones Abolition weaves a narrative of a historically complex and engaged people seeking to quell state violence. James discusses the contributions of the mother Mamie Till-Mobley who held a 1955 open-casket funeral for her fourteen-year-old Emmett Till, murdered by white nationalists; the 1971 rebels at Attica prison; the resilience of political prisoners despite the surplus torture they endured; the emergence of Black feminists as political theorists; human rights advocates seeking abolition; and the radical intellectualism of Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner slain in 2014 by the NYPD. James positions the Captive Maternal within the evolution of contemporary abolition. Her meditation on, and theorizing of, Black radicals and revolutionaries works to honor Agape-driven communities and organizers that deter state/police predatory violence through love, caretaking, protest, movements, marronage, and war resistance.

Read an interview with Joy James about the book at the Black Agenda Report.

Author revenues contributed to books for incarcerated/under-resourced communities.

 

About the Author

Joy James, Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Humanities at Williams College, is the author of Resisting State Violence; Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics; Transcending the Talented Tenth; Seeking the Beloved Community; and In Pursuit of Revolutionary Love. James’s numerous political theory articles on policing, prisons, abolitions, feminisms; and anti-Black racism include “The Womb of Western Theory,” an exploration of the Captive Maternal. James is editor of The New Abolitionists; Imprisoned Intellectuals; Warfare in the American Homeland; The Angela Y. Davis Reader; and coeditor of The Black Feminist Reader.

What People Are Saying

New Bones Abolition is a reminder that state repression is indiscriminate when it comes to gender—or generation. The NYPD strangled Eric Garner but his daughter Erica refused to accept defeat. Thank you Dr. Joy James for making sure that the flood lights of history will be aimed in the proper direction.”—Kalonji Jama Changa, cofounder of Black Power Media, organizer and founder of FTP Movement, and coproducer of Organizing is the New Cool

New Bones Abolition offers a series of dialectical engagements with the captive conditions of a racist society alongside an incisive assessment of movement gains, losses, and betrayals. Utilizing the Captive Maternal analytic, Joy James brilliantly maps the continuum from coerced or conflicted caregiving to war resistance against the physical, emotional, and psychological outcomes that are produced under a predatory democracy. We must grow new bones to recoup our generative and reproductive labor from those who enslave and imprison us—new bones that move beyond the rhetorical to materially confront imperialist violence and premature death. James’ thoughtful and urgent work leaves us with a renewed commitment to the unfinished struggle for Black liberation.”—Jalessah T. Jackson, founder of the Decolonial Feminist Collective and Access Reproductive Care Southeast Interim Executive Director

“From caretaking for those on the frontlines to war resistance against deathly policing and imperialism, Joy James details the myriad forms in which a ‘new bones’ abolition might learn from the life of Erica Garner and others. A beautiful love letter to those radicalized by trauma, and a clarion call to join them in the struggle for our collective liberation, New Bones Abolition honors the ancestors of centuries-long and present-day freedom movements and grounds their legacies as inheritances for the rebels and war resisters among us who are fighting for a future without police and state violence.” —Charmaine Chua, University of California, Santa Barbara, Global Studies

“It is impossible to read more than several pages of New Bones Abolition without confronting the long historical terror that saturates the present. This book is animated by the militancy of the Captive Maternal as a vessel of Black radical care and insurgent community, demystifying the liberal/nonprofit hijacking of ‘abolition’ while illuminating collective experiments in liberation that obliterate and make obsolete the anti-Black state—in and beyond the United States. Joy James identifies and dismantles the backdoor liberalism that endorses fraudulent ‘radical’ identities, organizations, and movements, offering a framework for collective study that builds liberationist analyses in the context of an increasingly multilayered, ‘progressive’ and reactionary counterinsurgency. I am grateful for this work.”—Dylan Rodríguez, author of White Reconstruction: Domestic Warfare and the Logic of Racial Genocide, University of California, Riverside, Department of Black Study and Department of Media and Cultural Studies

“A much needed reflection from the Black radical tradition on the second wave of Black Lives Matter protests following the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. By focusing on caregivers in the movement Joy James not only defines new modes of analysis for our movement, but extends much needed recognition of the crucial role that Black women and other caregivers play in the struggle for Black liberation. Above all, this book is a testament to the power and brilliance of our warrior-sister Erica Garner.” —Michael Bento, #NYCShutItDown and contributor to No Pasarán! Antifascist Dispatches from a World in Crisis

Praise for Joy James

Transcending the Talented Tenth proposes original analyses of historical portrayals of the African American intelligentsia as a way of understanding the contested terrain on which contemporary black intellectuals work . . . . Joy James’ work is a pioneering intervention.”—Angela Y. Davis, author of Are Prisons Obsolete?, University of California,
Santa Cruz

“James reveals a radical tradition [in Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics] that could free us all.”—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

“In this extraordinary volume, James brings together the powerful voices of prison resistance, past and present, providing the intellectual foundations for a comparative approach to our understanding of criminal justice as a tool for political repression. Imprisoned Intellectuals creates a critical scholarly resource for interpreting criminal justice and its impact on race, gender, and class hierarchies of power.”—Manning Marable, author of How Capitalism Underveloped Black America

“Americans have a hard time thinking about race, gender, and class at the same time, especially when intellectuals are in question. But not Joy James. Her refreshing discussion of Black thought refuses to stop with men or the highly educated. This [Transcending the Talented Tenth] is what African-American Studies is about in the best sense of the phrase.”—Nell Irvin Painter, author of Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol

“A superb collection, both instructive and inspiring. Joy James is to be complimented for Imprisoned Intellectuals and for her thoughtful introductory essay.”—Dennis Brutus, poet and former political prisoner of South African apartheid

“This Joy James reader [Seeking the Beloved Community] is at its core a portrait of ‘the making of a dissident voice’. . . . What we most desperately need in a world that fears and silences opposition—or worse—are revolutionaries who speak truth to power and beckon us to stand with them in solidarity. A luta continua.”—Beverly Guy-Sheftall, author of Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, Women’s Research and Resource Center, Spelman College

“These broad-ranging essays in Seeking the Beloved Community circle around the topic of building community under siege. Communities can be ‘thorny ties,’ as Joy James notes, yet are vital for developing a critical consciousness of one’s society. James also provides an astute analysis of the antirevolutionary trends in social theory today. Herein one will find the voice of a dissident humanist in full flower.”—Linda Martín Alcoff, coeditor of Constructing the Nation: A Race and Nationalism Reader

Imprisoned Intellectuals is a unique and very significant contribution.”—Bettina Aptheker, author of Communists in Closets: Queering the History 1930s–1990s

Table of Contents

“new bones” by Lucille Clifton
Acknowledgments
Introduction

Part I

Black Feminisms and Captive Maternal Agency
Old/New Bones Abolition: Academic Conferences and Communal Gatherings
Movement Capture and Monetized Black Death

Part II

The Killing and Dishonor of Eric Garner
Mother-Daughter Doula
Campaigning for Bernie and Against the DNC
Captive (After)Lives

Part III

Police Violence and the Limits of Legalism
International Alliances for Human Rights
War Resistance: We Charge Genocide and Return to the Source

Conclusion: Prioritizing Care and Ancestors

Further Resources
Index
About the Author

Tags: abolition ....... Black Liberation ....... Common Notions ....... Erica Garner ....... feminism ....... Joy James ....... policing and repression ....... racism .......