Indigenous and race-radical feminist movements confronting necropower in Carceral states

Lena Palacios

Research output: Other contribution


This dissertation theorizes how Indigenous and race-radical women of color feminist activists--in particular, Black and Indigenous feminists--identify, conceptualize, and resist interlocking forms of interpersonal, sexual, and carceral state violence in white settler societies in Canada and the United States. I argue that the metastasizing carceral state has reconstituted and revivified productions of gendered racial citizenship and white supremacy, as well as targeted Indigenous women and women of color for legal elimination and social death. Though largely omitted from the analytic frames of mainstream feminist anti-sexual violence activism, anti-prison abolitionism, anti-police brutality organizing, Indigenous women and women of color are both targets of enforcement and state violence, as well as agents of resistance and theoreticians in our own right. The purpose of this dissertation is twofold. First, I examine the theoretical insights that Indigenous and race-radical women of color feminists have advanced about state repression and the role of anti-radical, liberal and neoliberal tendencies--namely those perpetuated by mainstream carceral feminisms which advocate for state-driven, pro-criminalization strategies to address gendered and sexualized violence--in sustaining the carceral state. Second, I argue how race-radical, feminist activist-scholarship challenges a liberal politics of recognition and, instead, produces radical, oppositional models of justice, redress and response based in transformative justice feminist praxis. Transformative justice seeks to develop strategies to address intimate, interpersonal, community and structural violence from a political organizing perspective in order to move beyond state-imposed, institutionalized criminal legal and punishment systems. I situate my research alongside transnational feminist prison studies, critical ethnic studies, Native feminist studies, Black feminist studies, and critical race feminism. To examine the activist-scholarship of girls and women who are at the forefront of developing feminist, anti-violence movements for media justice, transformative justice, and prison abolition, I employ a range of methodologies that include auto-ethnography, case studies, and discourse analysis of media, policy, and social movement texts. I build from the literature to underscore how Indigenous and race-radical women feminist epistemology lays the necessary theoretical and activist groundwork that makes possible a rejection of a liberal politics of recognition and fosters an unwavering commitment to carceral state abolition.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2015

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