Imagine Otherwise: Liat Ben-Moshe on Community beyond the Carceral State

May 27, 2021 | Podcast

Movements organized around disability justice, prison and police abolition, queer and trans feminism, and economic justice have long shown how intersecting systems of oppression require intersectional frameworks for resistance.

In episode 134 of Imagine Otherwise, I interview Liat Ben-Moshe, who has spent her career tracing what she calls carceral ableism, or the ways the prison industrial complex and anti-disability logics shape one another in our daily lives as well as our political institutions.

Her research and activism illustrate the vital need to foreground disability justice in our efforts to end violence.

Liat points out that this kind of work produces a richer and more critical understanding of interdependency, one that neither romanticizes community nor enshrines individualism.

In our conversation, Liat and I discuss how community building and mutual aid have shifted during the COVID-19 pandemic and what that means for a post-pandemic future. We also discuss why learning to see one’s identities as political rather than descriptive is so crucial for movement building and why creating a world beyond containment, confinement, and segregation is how Liat imagines otherwise.

Liat Ben-Moshe wearing a blue shirt and teal earrings. Quote reads: My fight is for an non-carceral world, which means abolishing the whole logic that we need to contain, confine, and segregate people. To abolish carceral logic, you need to abolish the systems of oppression that construct that logic.
Liat Ben-Moshe wearing a blue short and teal earrings. Quote reads: In the shadows of capitalism and nationalism came a different understanding of what we need: mutual aid processes, reliance on each other, interdependence, new relations. I hope we keep and cultivate them beyond the pandemic.

Liat Ben-Moshe

Liat Ben-Moshe is an interdisciplinary scholar-activist working at the intersection of disability/madness, incarceration/decarceration, and abolition, as well as an associate professor of criminology, law and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

She is a disability and mad studies missionary committed to intersectional analysis and pedagogy.

Liat is the author of Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and co-editor (with Allison Carey and Chris Chapman) of Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

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