Conference / Symposium

Carceral Imaginaries: A Panel on Arts, Race, and Incarceration

Sponsored by Stanford Arts Institute, Stanford Humanities Center, Stanford Criminal Justice Center, Center for Human Rights & International Justice, Center for Ethics in Society, and Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020
4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
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Humanities Center Boardroom

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Event Details:

Please join the Stanford Arts Institute for a panel discussion with leading scholars on Carceral Imaginaries: A Panel on Arts, Race, and Incarceration. The panelists will explore the intersection of criminal justice and narratives of incarceration. From the preservation of African music and dance by criminalized fugitives to contemporary representations of incarcerated youth, this panel will consider what the arts can illuminate about mass incarceration in America.

  • Ashley Lucas is Associate Professor of Theatre & Drama and Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan. Lucas’s research and teaching interests include U.S. Latina/o theatre, prison theatre, theatre for social change, and related topics in acting, playwriting, and comparative ethnic studies.  Lucas is also the author of an ethnographic play about the families of prisoners titled Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass, which she has performed as a one-woman show throughout the U.S. and in Ireland, Brazil, and Canada. Her forthcoming book Prison Theatre and the Global Crisis of Incarceration (Methuen Press, Sept. 2020) examines the ways in which incarcerated people use theatre to counteract the dehumanizing forces of the prison.
  • Ruby Tapia is Associate Professor of English and Women's Studies and Chair of Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research and teaching engage the intersections of photography theory, feminist and critical race theory, and critical prison studies. Her current book project, The Camera in the Cage (forthcoming, Fordham University Press), interrogates the intersections of prison photography and carceral humanism and puts forth an argument and methodology for an abolitionist visuality. 
  • Bryan Wagner is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on African American expression in the context of slavery and its aftermath, and he has secondary interests in legal history and vernacular culture. His books include Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power after Slavery (Harvard University Press, 2009), The Tar Baby: A Global History (Princeton University Press, 2017), The Wild Tchoupitoulas (33 1/3 Series, Bloomsbury, 2019), and The Life and Legend of Bras-Coupé: The Fugitive Slave Who Fought the Law, Ruled the Swamp, Danced at Congo Square, Invented Jazz, and Died for Love (Louisiana State University Press, 2019).

About Arts + Justice

Following the fifth-year anniversary of Eric Garner's death, and the Black Lives Matter movement, Arts + Justice: Art, Race, and Mass Incarceration will discuss how art practices cultivate experiential and affective modes of witnessing. This series will bring artists, scholars, students, faculty, and community members in conversation about how art and culture generate productive counter-narratives in relation to representations of race, class, and capitalism within the American criminal justice system.

Arts +Justice builds on existing justice reform efforts and allows the public to consider the role of the arts in generating criminal justice reform, and lasting social change, on a local and national level. As an interdisciplinary arts organization dedicated to academic arts programming, Stanford Arts Institute envisions this year's series as one installment of many talks between scholars and artists.

Image: Amy Elkins, Parting Words, 2009-Present.