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CMAS Speaker Series: Robert Chase.

The Center for Mexican American Studies hosts Robert T. Chase, an associate professor of history at Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY). 

He is the author of We Are Not Slaves: State Violence, Coerced Labor, and Prisoners’ Rights in Postwar America (UNC, 2020).  He is also the editor of Caging Borders and Carceral States: Incarcerations, Immigration Detentions, and Resistance (UNC Press, 2019). Currently, Chase is the co-director of the national organization Historians Against Slavery (HAS).  As a public intellectual, his work on the history of prison and policing reform and state violence has been featured on national media programs through radio, newspapers, and television (MSNBC, CNN, and NPR, Newsweek, Washington Post).  His next book project is a history of sheriffs in the U.S. South and Southwest.

In the mid-twentieth century U.S. South and Southwest, prisons operated a highly efficient and lucrative prison labor system that controlled, disciplined, and ordered prisoners through racial, gender, and sexual hierarchies. This talk argues that the social structure of prison labor in the American South, particularly Texas, disciplined prisoners through a state orchestrated Jim Crow system of double enslavement—a slave for the state in prison fields and an enslaved body and servant within prison cells.  Drawing from three decades of legal documents compiled by prisoners and oral histories conducted with prisoners, this talk narrates the struggle to change prison from within. Behind bars, a prisoner coalition of Chicano Movement and Black Power organizations initiated a prison-made civil rights revolution and labor protest movement that directly confronted the carceral state and mass incarceration.

Co-Sponsored with the Department of History; the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and the Center for African American Studies

Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Neches Room, University Center, Neches/Pedernales
300 W 1st St., Arlington Tx

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