Today’s episode features Big Other‘s editor John Madera in conversation with Professor Jasmine Syedullah, black feminist political theorist of abolition. Among the things discussed: system racism, the origins of modern policing, the current nationwide of protests against police brutality, the ways policing as an institution reinforces race and class inequalities by design, police and prison abolition, alternatives to policing and incarceration, and more besides. The show opens with poet Brendan Lorber‘s latest lyrical weather report.
Jasmine Syedullah is a black feminist political theorist of abolition, and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Vassar College. Her current research intervenes in the field of political theory to ask how the carceral logics of modern freedom are challenged by captive black women’s demands for abolition. She roots her black feminist theory of abolition in the nineteenth-century writings of antislavery abolitionist Harriet Jacobs, namely the implications of her initial escape from slavery documented in her 1861 slave narrative to the tiny garret space she refers to as her “loophole of retreat.” With Jacobs as its foundation, her current book project, If Home Were a Loophole: Fugitives of Domestic Violence and the Unfinished Work of Abolition brings nineteenth together with twentieth-century abolitionist struggles against slavery and incarceration to better understand how women’s defense against the surveillance, policing, detention, criminalization, and punishment of everyday practices of self-making pose challenges to the kinds of relationships to racial capitalism by which they are bound. Syedullah holds a PhD in Politics with a designated emphasis in Feminist Studies and History of Consciousness from University of California Santa Cruz and a B.A. from Brown University in Religious Studies with a focus in Western Nihilism and Buddhist Philosophy.
Brendan Lorber is the author of If This Is Paradise Why Are We Still Driving? and several chapbooks, most recently Unfixed Elegy and Other Poems. His work appears in in the American Poetry Review, Fence, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. Since 1995, he has published and edited Lungfull! Magazine, an annual anthology of contemporary literature. He lives atop the tallest hill in Brooklyn, New York, in a little castle across the street from a five-hundred-acre necropolis.