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Carceral Capitalism

4.65  ·  Rating details ·  367 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Essays on the contemporary continuum of incarceration: the biopolitics of juvenile delinquency, predatory policing, the political economy of fees and fines, and algorithmic policing.

What we see happening in Ferguson and other cities around the country is not the creation of livable spaces, but the creation of living hells. When people are trapped in a cycle of debt it also
Paperback, 359 pages
Published October 20th 2017 by Semiotext(e)
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Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Our bodies are not closed loops. We hold each other and keep each other in time by marching, singing, embracing, breathing. We synchronize our tempos so we can find a rhythm through which the urge to live can be expressed, collectively. And in this way, we set the world into motion. In this way, poets become the timekeepers of the revolution."

It took me a while to finish this book, because it's pretty dense honestly. When I first started I was like am I smart enough to read this? But I kept
chantel nouseforaname
Right up there with Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Jackie Wang dropped bomb after bomb in this detailed look into the way that America has been using mass incarceration, fucked-up policing and judicial practices, taxes, and fines to control and destroy black and brown communities to make a profit.

I can't recommend this book any higher. Jackie Wang isn't just a scholar - even though she's a super dope scholar, she has that lived experience element of having family members incarcerated..
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i learned a lot from these essays about incarceration, financialization and debt, policing and automation, and the pitfalls of innocence vs. guilt discourse. while there are a lot of smart books on contemporary capitalism, i appreciate that jackie wang doesn't lose sight of the human impact of her arguments. my favorite parts of the book were where she talked about her brother's incarceration and its toll on her and her family. i appreciated the scope of her arguments that used political economy ...more
Anna Marie
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: abolition-utopia, own
everyone should read this!
Ripples in Time: an update
Against innocence: race, gender and the politics of safety
and the prison abolitionist imagination: a conversation
Sophie Fields
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Incredibly important book to read on the reality of incarceration and racism in America.... should be required reading for everyone.... disturbing saddening information but so concisely written and not too dense
I had a lot of strong reactions to this book, and I want to save them for the discussion in my book group and not spoil them. To summarize, this is a book about how predatory lending and financialization (two fancy ways of saying making money off of poor people) fuel other kinds of injustice, including the absurdly high level of incarceration in the US. None of it could happen without racism. On one foot: some people destroy the entire society to make money on the backs of the most vulnerable, ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book had me from beginning to end and has completely energized me in how I think about prisons, freedom, capitalism, and the world we live in. While her themes and progress are less than obvious or linear, everything fits together in a way that is alarming, fresh, and sensible. There are moments that satisfy my need for data and knowing more more more, and moments where the sheer poetry makes me cry. The majority of the book I found myself constantly bringing up things i learned in ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This exploration of the various methods of racialised control the state uses (in this case the US) is pretty jaw dropping at times. It does a really good job of linking up economic control (mainly focused on the appalling exploitation and expropriation through debt that defines capitalism today) alongside expropriation through predatory policing and through to incarceration itself.

Some of the theoretical constellations Wang makes didn't quite land for me (but maybe that's on me) but the
Yasmin Yoon
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was unequivocally the best book ive read this year. Probably the perfect book to follow up my finishing of discipline and punish. Jackie wang does a terrific job explaining her argument with theory and research on the intersections of power and knowledge during an era of technogovernance. Unlike your typical political scientist, however, she has this poet side that she uses to shake true the lived position of a prison abolitionist. She is not only rigorous and clearsighted in her academics ...more
Excellent set of essays on the predatory nature of our penal system. Especially important for those tempted to ask "what's so bad about privatization anyway?" or "why should 'criminals' expect to have the same rights as me an 'innocent' law-abiding citizen?"

At the same time, it is a scathing repudiation of capitalist ideology and the way it has utterly gutted government infrastructure and social programming. It includes a ton of historical events and figures typically excluded in mainstream
Mae Eskenazi
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely imperative read. Wang flawlessly critiques the interwoven dynamics of late stage capitalism and the carceral continuum through analyses of expropriation, children’s toys, algorithmic policing etc all the while in conversation with scholars such as Fanon, Esposito, and Foucault.
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
thankful for the new threads of thought introduced for me
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Insightful series of essays on race & racism, finance, capitalism, debt, risk and criminalization by one of the sharpest thinkers of our times. Well worth a careful read.
Zoe Eileen
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yes. A thousand yes' .
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really good collection of essays on the ways Capital uses prisons, policing, and debt to manage populations and extract/expropriate value from black folks. A wide range of frameworks employed.
Andrés Canella
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Jackie Wang's Carceral Capitalism piggybacks on the works of many of her antecedents in Marxist thought, adequately summarizing some of the points made in previous Semiotext(e) publications and adding a new layer: that of institutionalized racism to the argument. Wang's book is as revelatory as it is frustrating. There are moments of clarity: her writings on the fine and fees form of policing that fills in the municipal revenue void since the rise of neoliberalism, or an excellently put-together ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
-exclusiona nd dehumanization
-good chapter on debt and racial accumulation by dispossession
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. A little in the economics section probably went over my head, but I definitely learned a lot.

I would love a second edition that incorporated disability justice too.
Ashton Ellen Santo
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, favorites
One of the most enlightening and engaging books that I’ve read in a long time. Expanding far beyond what might be expected from a book entitled “Carceral Capitalism,” Jackie Wang delves into biopolitics (and its negative, necropolitics), the financialization of municipalities, algorithmic policing, and the viability of safe spaces when they are run by white people. Her writing shows the innate interconnectedness of struggle without going out of her way to make a point of it; the synthesis of her ...more
Eileen Ying
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
brilliant book, quite possibly the best piece of "academic" writing i've read this year. jackie wang approaches the U.S. criminal justice system with a keenly variegated critical lens. in my experience, most contemporary scholarship on the topic circulates around the narrative popularized by 13th – prison industrial complex, slavery to jim crow to the modern carceral state, etc. – which is indisputably important, but sometimes forecloses further theoretical exploration. wang describes herself as ...more
Zach Terrell
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What do we make
of the flowering vine
that uses as its trellis
the walls of a prison?

Jackie Wang has done us all a favor with this deeply researched and personal accounting for the racialized social order that is produced by late-capitalist accumulation. What a profound and timely reinscription of post-Marxist theory for 2018...and from such a young mind! I'll definitely be keeping tabs on her future work.

Reads well alongside Ursula Le Guin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas".

There are a lot of good ideas here, but I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to. I read it, by coincidence, at the same time as Locking Up Our Own and that really influenced how I saw Carceral Capitalism in turn. The theory is interesting but there isn’t enough analysis of, well, reality, or a body of historical evidence. It’s a lot of Marxist theory without enough “there” there. While I agree with the author on many points it also made me skeptical of what was being argued. This book ...more
Natsumi Paxton
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've never read Marx and I'm financially illiterate so this was tough for me; at times Wang really gets into it with Marxist definitions and investment processes and I was just lost. But I appreciate the analysis of the carceral state and capitalism as interdependent functions (mostly looking at the financialization of municipalities) though Wang is clear to reject that racism is driven by profit motives.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, essays
This small book covers a lot of territory. We get some Marxism, how black boys do not get treated like children, how the "justice" system keeps people in debt, how debt can lead to "crime" in the first place, the Occupy movement, and the author's personal connection through her older brother's JLWOP sentence. A worthy addition to books regarding prison abolition.
Henry L. Racicot
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I agree 100% with her analysis of what she calls *racial capitalism,* though I feel she tends to overlook the more universal aspects of modern indebtedness. Also, her rhetoric is a little overblown and littered with too much street jargon, maybe she wants to earn some street cred? But Semiotext(e) is not exactly the publisher of choice in the hood.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Notes on the debt economy wasn't very analytical, but the other essays are quite excellent. And I would note that the bibliography is a syllabus in itself.
Nik Carverhill
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best, and most important, books I've read in the last half-decade. If I could give it higher than five stars, I would.
Jul 08, 2019 added it
Shelves: politics
this book is so crucial that it feels strange to review it. i’m thinking about why i started writing things on this website and wondering if i should still do it
Adam Schlesinger
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Took a while but I rather enjoyed it. Good way to connect a lot of disparate strands of leftist theory to a really inspiring anti-Carceral manifesto
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I look forward to reading more by Wang, as her writing style in this book is inviting, forceful, and dynamic.
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Jackie Wang is a student of the dream state, black studies scholar, prison abolitionist, poet, performer, library rat, trauma monster and PhD student at Harvard University. She is the author of a number of punk zines including On Being Hard Femme, as well as a collection of dream poems titled Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb.
“It is usually the case that somewhere in the world, yesterday's workers are today's surplus population. This process continually opens up new domains for expropriation and value generation, whether it is through moneylending or warehousing people in prisons. (p. 109)” 0 likes
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