SOAS University of London

Carceral Policy, Policing and Race

SOAS is pleased to announce the creation of a new initiative: Carceral Policy, Policing and Race. In the wake of a resurgent Black Lives Matter movement, we have witnessed a renewed dialogue about the salience of race in systems of policing and prisons. However, this has not been translated into a sustained conversation about the global reality of Black, brown and Indigenous internment.

Explored chiefly within the context of the Global North, discussions of racial justice routinely exclude the demands of marginalised populations across the Global South, whose experiences of confinement and repression are largely hidden behind framings of “disproportionality”, “criminal justice” and “mass incarceration.” Recalibrating the discussion, the Carceral Policy, Policing and Race Project seeks to amplify the carceral experiences of marginalised communities around the world, and to dig deeper into the various meanings and manifestations of carcerality itself.

To do so, the Project will pay particular attention to the way in which these experiences have been heavily shaped by histories – and continuities – of colonialism and slavery. To this day, populations across Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean are navigating economic, legal and social infrastructure that was once imposed upon them by foreign occupying powers. That includes systems of prisons, policing and detention, and it includes the lasting hierarchies of class, race and gender that still underpin them. This also includes the distinctive carceral legacies of plantation slavery, perhaps the earliest form of “mass incarceration” itself."

By understanding these colonialities, the Project will not only amplify the carceral experiences of marginalised populations across the Global South, but connect them to the experiences of Black, Asian, Indigenous and minority ethnic individuals navigating legacies of colonialism and slavery elsewhere. This project adopts a truly comparative framework to uncover the divergent historical trajectories, yet strikingly similar carceral colonial character, of societies across Europe, the Americas and Oceania, as well as the traditional African, Asian and Middle Eastern remit of SOAS.

Grounded in this understanding, the Carceral Policy, Policing and Race Project will also discuss solutions, forms of resistance and alternative futures. Identifying action that is already being taken, as well as exploring new paths that remain uncharted, the Project will ask what it would mean to “decolonise” systems of criminal justice around the world.

For more information about the Project, please visit https://www.soas.ac.uk/news/ newsitem156723.html We will be running a series of online workshops, culminating in an in-person conference. The details of the first workshop can be found here: https://www.soas.ac.uk/law/research/projects/carceral-policy-policing-and-race/events/