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Criminology Seminar Series - Abolitionist Killjoys, Carceral Enjoyments, and the Social Life of Social Death

Starts 08 February 2018 - 18:00
Finishes 08 February 2018 - 19:30
Venue TBC, Birkbeck, University Of London, Malet Street, WC1E 7HX, London
Booking details
Free entry; booking required
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Event description

Abolitionist Killjoys, Carceral Enjoyments, and the Social Life of Social Death

Speaker: Dr. Andrew Dilts (Loyola Marymount)

This paper takes up the problem of the pleasures and enjoyments that putatively “innocent” members of society gain, enjoy, and hold under the terms of contemporary incarceration and the effects of its wide-reaching collateral consequences in the United States. While scholars have rightly explored the ways that both punitive practices such as long term solitary confinement and collateral consequences such as felon disenfranchisement render current and former prisoners as socially and civicly “dead,” less attention has been paid to the form of parasitic “life” constructed as its antithesis. This paper argues, following the work of critical race theorists and feminist epistemologists, that this is in part due to an epistemology of ignorance that blocks the recognition or acknowledgment of the pleasures of membership, citizenship, and freedom constitutively produced by this form of life and death. However, it is not simply that individuals who can avoid interactions with the criminal justice system enjoy privileges they are “unaware” of, but also that they cling to these pleasures even when faced with the knowledge of their parasitic behavior. As such, a more radical and confrontational form of "knowing" is called for in response. To this end, I follow the abolitionist work of CeCe McDonald alongside Sara Ahmed’s figuration of the “feminist killjoy” as models for how to re-center analyses of incarceration around voices and narratives of currently and formerly incarcerated persons, not simply as a form of disruptive ideology critique, but as a distinctive form of disruptive affect - Dr. Andrew Dilts

To book your place for this event please visit here

About the Criminology Seminar Series

In line with the School of Law, Birkbeck's research and teaching ethos, the Criminology Seminar Series aims to provide a platform for critical and interdisciplinary research, showcasing prominent and path-breaking research on crime, criminal justice and related themes by scholars from within and beyond Birkbeck. The series is convened by Dr Sappho Xenakis, School of Law, Birkbeck.

Attendance to the events is free but registration is required. Talks from the 2017/18 series will be avaible for download via the website. Find out more about the series here. The hashtag for the event is #BBKCrimSeries.

Please note that latecomers to the event are not guaranteed entry. Please be advised that photographs may be taken at the event for use on the Birkbeck website and in Birkbeck marketing materials. By attending this event, you consent to Birkbeck photographing and using your image for these purposes. By registering for this event you consent to your email address being added to the School of Law, Birkbeck mailing list. Your email address will not be shared with third-party organisations. If you would like to request your removal from our mailing list please contact

Picture credit: Image is by Fernando Botero: Abu Ghraib #67 (2005). University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Gift of the Artist, 2009.12.42 Photographed for the UC Berkeley Art Museum by Benjamin Blackwell.

This event is part of the School of Law's 25th Anniversary celebrations. The School of Law, Birkbeck was founded in 1992 as a Department of Law with three members of academic staff. Over the last twenty-five years it has become a School comprising the Departments of Law and Criminology as well as the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, four research Centres, 40 members of staff and an overall student body of over 1,000. The School is proud of being a pioneer in establishing and developing a hub for the field of critical legal studies. While our national and international reputation has been forged through critical legal research, more recently we have gained recognition for critical criminological and activist research, socio-legal scholarship and policy-engaged empirical research. In recognition of this the last Research Excellence Framework exercise ranked us as being in the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top 3 in London, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.

In this our 25th Anniversary year we will be holding a series of events reflecting on our history and successes as well as looking forward to the opportunities and challenges facing critical legal and criminological teaching and scholarship in the 21st century. Find out more about the 25th Anniversary celebrations here.

Contact name
Dr. Andrew Dilts (Loyola Marymount)
Further details

School/department website