Graduate Student Workshop on Religion and Mass Incarceration

The rapid growth of prisons in the United States, and globally, has recently attracted a great deal of scholarly attention. How have religious ideas and practices contributed to the rise of mass incarceration, and how might religious ideas and practices contribute to its demise? How have religious traditions themselves been affected by a culture that now equates justice with “law and order”? We intend to bring together graduate students whose work investigates these issues using a variety of methods (ethnographic, historical, theoretical, textual) and at a variety of sites (various religious traditions, inside the US and beyond, inside and outside prison walls). We are particularly interested in projects that participate in, reflect on, or attempt to catalyze grassroots organizing around these issues. Participants will provide feedback to each other as well as receive feedback from faculty. They will also be asked to compose a blog post summarizing their project for a general audience. The workshop is organized in conjunction with the Central New York Working Group on Religion and Mass Incarceration (a joint project of Cornell, Syracuse, and Rochester) and the Religion and Incarceration Network (

artwork by mary tremonte,

artwork by mary tremonte,

The workshop will be held at Syracuse University on Friday, October 31, 2014. We will reimburse travel and accommodation expenses. We invite applications from doctoral students in any discipline whose research is relevant to this topic. To apply, please submit a 2 page abstract (~750 words) of the work that you would present as well as your CV to Vincent Lloyd ( by July 20, 2014. Questions can also be addressed to Vincent Lloyd. Notification by August 1, 2014.

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Contribute Your Questions, Your Syllabi, Your CFPs and Your Resources…

Artwork by Pete Yahnke, Voices from Outside: Artists Against the Prison Industrial Complex,

Artwork by Pete Yahnke,

Since launching Religion and Incarceration two weeks ago, we have been overwhelmed by the interest in this burgeoning network.

As scholars of religion and incarceration, prison chaplains, teachers of in-prison courses, currently/formerly incarcerated activists, family members of those on lockdown, and people committed to working across these spaces to realize an end to mass incarceration, each of you brings a wealth of expertise to our collaborative forum.

To that end, we want to encourage you to contribute the resources that support you in your work, and also to solicit ideas from others in this network.

Please use the contact form below to submit a Blog Post, a Call for Papers, an Upcoming Event, or any other information that might be of interest to Religion and Incarceration readers and contributors.

Cell Blocks and Border Stops: A Conference at Union Theological Seminary

ippimageIn October 2013, Union Theological Seminary’s Center for Race, Religion and Economic Democracy and the Alliance for a Just Society’s Institute for Pragmatic Practice brought together organizers, religious scholars, academics, policy leaders, journalists, and grassroots activists for Cellblocks and Border Stops: Transformative Activism in an Age of Dehumanization.  Together, national and local collaborators examined the intersection of immigration control and mass incarceration, and considered the future of activism and organizing in these areas.

The Center for Race Religion and Economic Democracy‘s youtube channel features interviews with participants, videos of conference panels, and clips of the testimonies from incarcerated people read aloud throughout the conference, including:

Panel on Capitalism, Neoliberalism, & Control
• Moderator: Daniel HoSang
• Panelists: Pramila Jayapal, Vincent Warren, Joy James

Interview with Vince Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights

Interview with Monami Maulik, Executive Director, D.R.U.M.

And More…

You can also find a report of the October 17-19, 2013 events online.

Religion, Abolition, Mass Incarceration: A Conference at Cornell University

MattedIn October 2013, a diverse selection of scholars, free and incarcerated prisoner advocates, and religious workers gathered in Ithaca, New York to probe the undisclosed means and ends of contemporary mass incarceration. Religion was central to their inquiry:

Since the advent of the penitentiary, imprisonment in the United States and much of the world has been underwritten by religion. Simultaneously, as paradigmatically demonstrated by the nineteenth century abolitionists, religious ideas and practices offer untapped resources for re-imagining justice.

While the conference date has since passed, the website offers a wealth of information for scholars and activists interested in the intersection of religion and incarceration.

In advance of the conference, contributions were solicited from a number of men incarcerated in New York and Pennsylvania. These have been uploaded as image files in the section, Correspondence from Afar.

You will also find detailed Abstracts from the conference’s panel presentations on topics including Activating Religious Potentialities; Secularized Religious Ethics and Prisoner Solidarity; Methods, Poetics, & Utopias of Abolition; Religious Workers on Decarceration and Prisoner Solidarity Movements; Theologies & Counter-theologies of Mass Incarceration; and States of Captivity & Religious Justice in Latin America.