Via Abolitionist Futures
Recently we have seen a huge uptake in interest in abolitionist ideas as abolitionist discussions enter more mainstream conversations. More people are questioning whether prisons are the best response to harms in society and whether the police actually function to bring about a safer society. But how might we need to alter our thinking, practices and social institutions to build a world without prisons and policing?
Prison abolition has a long and diverse tradition of thinking and organising around these questions. Abolition has been influenced by the radical black tradition, indigenous organising, marxist and anarchist ideas, queer and feminist analysis. And at their most successful, abolitionist principles embed themselves within all political struggles: disability activism, housing and welfare campaigns, feminist organising, environmental justice, anti-war and anti-border struggles to name a few.
We have put together this reading list to introduce you to abolitionist ideas via short, accessible and introductory texts, podcasts and videos.
We hope they spark informed discussions of abolitionist ideas to take with you to work places, campaign meetings, and conversations with friends and family.
(don’t worry we’re not suggesting to read all of these!)
The suggested reading list is not exhaustive and inevitably has many gaps and limitations. This is both because it is not possible to cover everything within six weeks, and also because we were trying to include a variety of content. If you have suggestions for other readings, please let us know.
We recognise that a fair number of the readings are from the US. This is in part due to the more established abolitionist organising there. However it is important to bear in mind that there are significant differences in context, and we can’t simply import US analysis or strategies to the UK.
The readings have been chosen to offer some starting points for discussion, including how lessons learned in other contexts might be useful in thinking about the UK situation.
The number of readings vary per session but don’t feel like you have to read or watch everything! Please feel free to pick as many or as few readings as you like depending on how much time people in your group have to read them or what you are particularly interested in.
Also, if you want to set up your own group, check out our guidance on setting up a reading group and our facilitators guide.