GREAT BARRINGTON, MA—This year’s Symposium on Social Justice and Inclusion at Simon’s Rock will feature a keynote address from Jackie Wang, a black studies scholar, poet, and author of Carceral Capitalism (MIT Press).

Wang’s address, titled “Carceral Capitalism and Abolitionist Poetry,” will examine the relationship between prison abolition and social imagination. A student of the dream state, Wang will use dreams to explore these issues free from present reality’s oppressive status quo. Wang explains that her poetry “seeks to shatter the racial capitalist order and the captivity of bodies and minds.”

A PhD candidate at Harvard University in African and African American Studies, Wang is also the author of a series of a collection of dream poems titled Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb (Capricious). A prison abolitionist, she has recently been investigating the bail bonds industry and the history of risk assessment in the criminal legal system. Her book, Carceral Capitalism, is an examination of contemporary incarceration techniques. In it, she illustrates various aspects of the U.S. corrections system, including the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory policing, the political economy of fees and fines, and cybernetic governance.

“We are excited to be bringing Jackie Wang to Simon's Rock and Great Barrington,” says Nancy Bonvillain, a Simon’s Rock professor and organizer of the Symposium. “Wang inspires a sense of purpose and a vision for a better world.”

"I wanted to bring [Wang] to campus to challenge people's narratives about who is 'deserving' of support," says Simon's Rock student Ankur Chakrabarti Roybarman, who helped select Wang as the Symposium keynote speaker. "Her work is extremely important to me because it highlights the mistake that many make of focusing on the 'innocent victim' and thereby abandoning anyone deemed 'guilty,' as well as everyone affected by long term economic and systemic racism which neoliberalism defines as personal failure."

This year, the Symposium will focus on understanding how all citizens can find and use their voices to find solidarity and build coalitions. In the last few years, several groups and movements have emerged that, although initially focused on specific issues, became increasingly intersectional in their interests, membership, and goals. Symposium events will explore ways of speaking up about issues related to being marginalized, undervalued, and silenced, and how to use power and privilege to support social justice movements. The events and workshops scheduled for Symposium Week will encourage participants to question their realities and realize their ability to engage in work that fosters social justice and equity.

Wang will deliver her keynote address at 7:00 PM on Tues., Nov. 6, in the McConnell Theatre. Symposium Week runs from Nov. 2 through Nov. 9.

(press release and article image sent to WSBS from Bard College at Simon's Rock for online/on-air use)