AGAINST THE COLONIAL CARCERAL DIASPORA
I propose a visual contribution that supports a radical reimagination of the terrain of anti-carceral and anti-imperial action. By centering the disconnected diaristic writings and biographies of women of African descent who live(d) as political prisoners, I envision a map that connects both the temporal and geographic realities of African women’s political activism and defiance. The map joins Lucy Parsons and Assata Shakur (U.S.A 1913, 1970s) to Gambo Sawaba (Nigeria 1960s), to recently imprisoned transwoman, Shakiro, (Cameroon 2021) to illuminate the colonial logic of incapacitation-cum-extraction, racialization, and sexed labeling. Simultaneously, the work should allow observers to piece together the methods of sexual definition, surveillance and intrusion that states use to suppress African women’s public anti-imperialism and revolutionary thought. I would like to highlight the criminalizing mechanisms stemming from the colonial carceral legacy that attempts to sort racialized bodies into troubled sexes and continually subject us to particular laws, such as public indecency or nuisance, to entrap people in jails, prisons and the cyclical carcerality of economic retribution. With the visual component, I hope to communicate that women and genderqueer people of African descent have been naming prisons as a central place of perpetual imperialist oppression, which outlasts the traditional temporal bounds of Western colonialism.
SM Rodriguez is an incoming Assistant Professor of Gender, Rights and Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science. A scholar-activist, they have spent the last decade researching queer and racial justice movement-making throughout the African Diaspora and organizing with the Audre Lorde Project in New York City. Their first book, The Economies of Queer Inclusion: Transnational Organizing for LGBTI Rights in Uganda (2019) questioned the effect of transnational activism on the grassroots movement in Uganda for kuchu dignity and safety from state violence. They formerly worked to develop Hofstra University’s programs in critical criminology and LGBTQ+ studies.