"Punishment & Its Discontents" - Chabraja Center for Historical Studies Graduate Conference, Northwestern University - May 19, 2017

Matthew June's picture
Call for Papers
February 1, 2017
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
Graduate Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Law and Legal History, Urban History / Studies, Political History / Studies


Chabraja Center for Historical Studies - http://www.historicalstudies.northwestern.edu

Northwestern University, May 19, 2017

Mass incarceration, state surveillance, militarized policing, even punitive parenting movements – all are aspects of the contemporary American carceral state and representative of the punitive turn in U.S. culture and politics. Punishment, however, is neither unique to the U.S. nor this moment, and its development has not gone unchallenged. This conference will explore the myriad social, political, cultural, and economic implications of punishment, evaluating its role in broader developments from inscribing gender ideologies to empowering the rise of neoliberalism. It seeks to bring together a diverse group of scholars exploring the history of punishment and its discontents at a number of levels, from global applications of punitive power to personal stories of experiencing punishment or resisting it.

We invite submissions from all fields of history and related disciplines. Submissions may address, but are not limited to, the following questions: How have historians defined and theorized punishment, the carceral state, and/or the punitive turn? How has state capacity to punish developed over time? How has political rhetoric served to justify punitive policies? How has opposition to such policies been organized? What have been the consequences of specific groups’ contacts with the carceral state? How has punishment established or reified gender and racial ideologies? How have changes in punishment policies reflected shrinking or growing state capacity in other areas? What challenges do scholars face in studying the history of punishment?

Heather Ann Thompson (University of Michigan) will be the keynote speaker. Professor Thompson is the author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Pantheon, 2016), a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. Thompson is also the author of Whose Detroit? Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City (Cornell University Press, 2001) and the editor of Speaking Out: Activism and Protest in the 1960s and 1970s (Pearson, 2009). Her scholarly articles include, “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline and Transformation in Postwar America,” (Journal of American History, 2010), and she has also written on the history of mass incarceration and its current impact for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, Salon, Dissent, New Labor Forum, and The Huffington Post.

Interested graduate students should send a paper proposal of no more than one page (250 words), and an updated CV to conference organizer, Matt June (mattjune@u.northwestern.edu) by February 1, 2017. A Northwestern history faculty committee will select the papers. Conference papers will be ten to twelve pages double spaced, and due by Wednesday, May 3, in order to allow time for circulation to the commentators. Presentations will run 10 minutes.

Contact Info: 

Matt June, T.H. Breen Fellow

Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies

Northwestern University