An immanent critique of the prison nation: The contradictions of carceral “anti-violence”

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More women are currently incarcerated than at any other time in US history. Though the United States has begun to acknowledge mass incarceration as an international embarrassment, the discourse has centered on men of color, and the experiences and consequences of US mass incarceration for women of color have been largely ignored. This is the case in spite of a now strong mainstream, institutionalized movement to end violence against women, and a growing prison reform movement ostensibly meant to help vulnerable women. This paper uses the method of immanent critique to explain why women of color have been left behind by reform strategies, and to make a normative argument for abolitionist strategies. I use Beth E. Richie’s analysis of the failure of the feminist anti-violence movement to protect poor women of color, to expose the contradictory circumstance that turns “public safety” and “anti-violence” against the women they claim to protect, and to argue that reform is not enough.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)571-592
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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