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SBU News > On Campus > Leading Scholars to Convene at SBU to Examine the “Color Line to the Carceral State”

Leading Scholars to Convene at SBU to Examine the “Color Line to the Carceral State”

Race conference
Race Conference
One of the most famous riots in history occurred at Attica Prison in 1971 when inmates demanded political rights and better living conditions.

“From the Color Line to the Carceral State: Prisons, Policing and Surveillance in the 20th and 21st Centuries,” will be held on Tuesday, October 27, from 10 am to 7:30 pm in the Humanities Building, Room 1008. The conference is free and open to the public.

Organized by Robert Chase

, an assistant professor in the Department of History at Stony Brook University, this conference gathers seven of the nation’s leading scholars to examine the historical roots, dispersed locations and present-day consequences of mass incarceration and the carceral state.

A broad range of topics will be covered:

  • The colonial borders of the carceral state and the origins of voter disenfranchisement
  • The militarization of policing and the “War on Drugs”
  • Lynching and capital punishment
  • Prison construction and prisoner rebellions
  • Police/state violence and urban uprisings
  • Immigration and immigrant detention/deportation
  • Domestic spying and the surveillance state

Through these themes, connections will be made between the historical origins of the carceral state and contemporary struggles over mass incarceration and policing. A panel of six leading activists and civil rights attorneys will connect the past with present issues.

Visiting speakers: Kelly Lytle Hernandez, UCLA; Elizabeth Hinton. Harvard University; Pippa Holloway, Middle Tennessee State University; Donna Murch, Rutgers University; Heather Thompson, University of Michigan; and Yohuru Williams, Fairfield University.

Participating activists: Rev. Charles Coverdale, First Baptist Church, Riverhead; Joseph Hayden, Campaign against the New Jim Crow; Jill Humphries, Black Movement Law Project; Malia Lazu, Future Boston; and Donna Lieberman, NYCLU.

When considering the major dilemma of the 20th century, W. E. B. Du Bois famously declared, “The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color-line.” Since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013, the nation has witnessed a wave of social protest movements declaring that “Black Lives Matter” and decrying the criminal justice system as beset with racialized and abusive policing that has led to widespread racial discrimination and mass incarceration. Scholars of the 21st century have taken up Du Bois’ claim to consider the ways in which prisons, policing and surveillance have constructed a contemporary condition that one scholar has called the “New Jim Crow.”

Conference co-sponsors and working partners from Stony Brook include the Department of History, Department of Africana Studies, Department of Sociology, Center for Study of Working Class Life, and Humanities Institute, as well as the Program in Black Studies at Fairfield University.

Click here for the conference schedule. For more information, please call (631) 632-9983.

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