Abolition Humanities Lab Syllabus

Course Summary

Abolition Lab – Fall 2023

This course will explore both the theory and practice of what Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Mariame Kaba, the Abolition Journal Collective, Angela Davis, The Revolution Starts at Home zine and many, many others call Abolition. This term refers to the abolition of police, prisons, borders, forms of surveillance and control that rely on state sponsored forms of violence but also the more ingrained and unconscious punitive structures that shape our own social relations and daily habits. We will work to keep multiple and intersecting scales of abolition at the center of the course, including the space of the classroom up to global carceral connections that bind the borders of the U.S., Mexico, Israel, and South Africa. Along with readings about abolition, we will take our own campus as a site of critical inquiry and mapping. Together, we will develop skills in visual technologies used by groups like Forensic Architecture and SITU to depict how state violence operates through institutions. We will also develop skills in historical archaeology that help us to understand how the development of our campus has impacted communities that are not counted as part of the “NYU community.” How might we imagine an education that resists the terms set by the university’s institutional framework and transforms our relationship to the spaces we inhabit? The end product of our collaborative, project based course will be collectively designed imaginings of what harm reduction and transformative justice might look like on a campus without borders and police.