Contemporary Conversation: Carceral Continuum

Lis Rhodes, Running Light, 1993. Film still. Courtesy the artist and LUX, London
Lis Rhodes, Running Light, 1993. Film still. Courtesy the artist and LUX, London

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Join us for a Contemporary Conversation with Nadine El-Enany and Nicholas Shapiro addressing the afterlives of slavery in the carceral continuum.

What are the historical crossovers between mass incarceration systems, economic precariousness and racial vulnerability? A global pattern of environmental racism adds to the forces of production that make black and indigenous subjects intrinsic to the capitalist creation of value and financial speculation. The violence of capitalist accummulation is often incremental and concealed from public view, embodied in the figures of the slave, the migrant worker, the household worker, and the chronically unemployed. This same violence is perpetuated by the multiplication of prison complexes by residual toxic centres or immigration detention centres nearby carbon-heavy aviation centres. From the aesthetic problem of making legible deep historical injustices, can prison abolitionism and environmental vulnerability be brought together for stronger justice claims?

The event is part of the series Contemporary Conversations, which looks at arts position to its present. Acknowledging artists’ role in neither coinciding nor departing from their time, but working with its passage, pressing and transforming it, this series of evening dialogues explores the present tense in its cultural and political dimensions, visual cultures and postcolonial debates.

Nadine El-Enany is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Birkbeck School of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Law. Nadine teaches and researches in the fields of migration and refugee law, European Union law, protest and criminal justice. She has published widely in the field of EU asylum and immigration law. Her current research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, focuses on questions of race and criminal and social justice in death in custody cases. Nadine has written for the Guardian, the LRB Blog, Pluto Blog, Verso Blog, Open Democracy, Media Diversified, Left Foot Forward and Critical Legal Thinking. Her book, (B)ordering Britain: law, race and empire is forthcoming with Manchester University Press in 2019.

Nicholas Shapiro is an incoming assistant professor of Biology and Society at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a co-founder of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a longtime fellow at Public Lab, and a collaborator on the Aerocene project. He is a critic and practitioner of environmental monitoring and mitigation, collaborating across the social sciences, the natural sciences, and the arts. His work related to the Carceral Continuum involves apprehending the environmental justice implications of mass incarceration in the US as prisons are routinely placed on residual toxic land (on top of old mines or dumps) or next to polluting industry. Shapiro’s writing has been translated into Korean, French, and Spanish and his research has been featured in a broad range of media from NPR, The Late Show with Stephan Colbert, and The Art Newspaper to national newspapers in Japan and Chile.

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