Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Captives Reviewed in The Metropole

The historian David Helps has penned an excellent review of Captives for The Metropole, the official blog of the Urban History Association. Check it out here. Thanks to the author for his time and generosity.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Treason to Whiteness in Los Angeles Review of Books

The scholars Dylan Davis and Patrick King have penned an excellent review of Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity, the Noel Ignatiev reader I edited with Zhana and Geert, in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Read it here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

States of Incarceration

I am excited to announce the release of States of Incarceration: Rebellion, Reform, and America's Punishment System, which I co-authored with Zhandarka Kurti, out today on the Field Notes Series of Reaktion Books.

You can purchase the book here.

Critical praise includes:

"This book, perhaps the most synthetic and ambitious look at the George Floyd Rebellion, is an attempt to view the events of 2020 from the perspective of complete social transformation—which is to say, revolution." ― Tobi Haslett, The Brooklyn Rail

“Bold and brilliant,
States of Incarceration is essential reading for those who labor to counter repression and movement capture. The authors offer fierce, fluid analyses of police/state violence and critique progressives' contradictions. The analyses of US history, contemporary uprisings, and current conflicts enlighten and strengthen the work of freedom communities. Share and debate this book.” Joy James, author of In Pursuit of Revolutionary Love, and editor of Imprisoned Intellectuals and The New Abolitionists

“Deeply researched and tightly argued,
States of Incarceration offers a nuanced history of the US carceral state and the politics of its abolition, deftly demonstrating why the latter emerged as the political horizon of the 2020 George Floyd Rebellion. Breaking with those committed to burying the inspiration of this insurrectionary moment as well as those who have lost hope in abolitionism’s potential in the wake of the rebellion’s demise, this book makes a clear and convincing case for holding firm to abolitionism as a dynamic revolutionary politic.” Toussaint Losier, co-author of Rethinking the American Prison Movement

“Abolition is a brick. Will it be used to build the courthouses and carceral institutions of the future, or will it be thrown through their windows?
States of Incarceration makes a powerful case for the latter, poring over the blueprints of our carceral present while imagining what might be born from its smoldering ashes." Geo Maher, author of A World Without Police

“A manifesto written by and for activists. A call to deeply informed activism. A defense and critique of revolutionary violence. A polemic to be taken very seriously. An invitation to leap into an imagined future without carceral states.”
Tony Platt, University of California, Berkeley, author of Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Hard Crackers Issue Nine Available Now!

Issue nine of Hard Crackers is now available! It features new writing from Mushahid Hussain, Beth Henson, Tim Bruno, Adelina Gina, Mike Morgan, Bob Myers, Steven Weidman, Jenny Morgan, Paul Wasserman, and Patrick King. Check it out here.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Hellraiser and The Horror of Police

Happy Halloween! I have two spooky articles out today. 

The first is a review of Travis Linnemann's The Horror of Police, in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Check it out here.

The second is a lengthy assessment of the Hellraiser franchise in light of the 2022 reboot, in Hard Crackers. Check it out here.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Treason to Whiteness in Boston Review

The scholar Mike King has penned an excellent review of Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity, the volume of Noel Ignatiev's writing I edited along with Zhana and Geert, for the Boston Review. Check it out here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Hybrid Moments on the Antifada

To celebrate spooky season I visited my friends at the Antifada and read my recent essay "Hybrid Moments" about the Misfits, the reunion industrial complex, and what, if anything, is the meaning of punk rock. Check it out here, and consider becoming a patron of this podcast.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Everybody Loves Communism

I had a great time chatting with my friends at the Everybody Loves Communism podcast about Captives, abolitionism, and the US political horizon post-2020. Check out the episode here, and consider becoming a patron!


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

States of Incarceration with Tobi Haslett

Zhana and I sat down with essayist Tobi Haslett for an excellent discussion about our new book States of Incarceration, which is out next month on the Field Notes series of Reaktion Books. Check out the interview here and in this month's Brooklyn Rail, and never miss an issue!

States of Incarceration: Rebellion, Reform, and America's Punishment System can be pre-ordered here. I've heard it is already shipping, though the nominal US release is in November.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Hybrid Moments

Just in time for October, I have a new essay in Hard Crackers on seeing the latest Misfits reunion, Chicago's Riot Fest, nostalgia, urban enclosure, and the elusive political content of punk rock. Check it out here.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Two Upcoming Captives Events in Upstate New York

I am very excited to be discussing Captives at two Buffalo area events on Friday, 9/30. 

The first is at Niagara University, Dunleavy Hall (room 127), 9 Varsity Drive, Niagara Falls, NY, from 2:30 to 4pm. 

The second is at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut Street, Buffalo, NY, at 7pm. 

Thanks to the Social Justice Speaker Series at Niagara University for making this happen!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Coal, Cages, Crisis on Brooklyn Rail's Common Ground

On Thursday, September 22nd at 1pm ET, Abby and I will appear on the Brooklyn Rail's "Common Ground" discussion series, in dialogue with Judah Schept about his book Coal, Cages, Crisis. What a treat! You can tune in online by following this link and registering in advance.  

This event grew out of my and Abby's review of that book in the Rail's September issue. Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Captives Reviewed in London Review of Books

I am excited to see Captives reviewed in the September 22nd issue of London Review of Books by the essayist Sarah Resnick. Thanks to the reviewer for a thorough and generous treatment of the book. Check it out online here.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Coal, Cages, Crisis

The prison scholar Abby Cunniff and I have a review of Judah Schept's book Coal, Cages, Crisis (NYU Press, 2022) in this month's issue of the Brooklyn Rail's "Field Notes" section. Check it out here, pick up a copy of this excellent book, and never miss an issue of the Brooklyn Rail!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A Season in Hell

I was honored to sit down with my old friend Natasha Lennard for an interview with Bookforum. We discussed Captives, the present-day significance of the history it details, and the book's creative process. Check it out here!

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Treason to Whiteness at Boneshaker Books

On Friday, August 19th at 7pm,  Zhana and I will appear at Boneshaker Books (202 23rd Ave S) in Minneapolis to discuss Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity, our new collection of essays by the late Noel Ignatiev. Our Chicago event went great, and we are looking forward to this one! Hope to see you there.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Treason to Whiteness at Pilsen Community Books

On Friday July 22nd at 7pm, Zhana and I will be visiting our friends at Chicago's Pilsen Community Books (1102 W 18th St.) for a celebration and discussion of our new co-edited collection of Noel Ignatiev's political writing, Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity. Come out and pick up a copy!

Friday, July 1, 2022

Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity

I am thrilled to announce the release of Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity (448 pp., Verso), a collection of essays by the late militant historian Noel Ignatiev edited by Zhana, Geert Dhondt, and me, with an introduction by David Roediger and a biography by John Garvey. Noel's 2019 death was a major blow to friends of human liberation, and we hope this collection will help popularize his ideas and the example he set in life.

Pick up the book here.

Check out this advance praise: 

“This book is the gift of a life well-lived—as steelworker, scholar, race traitor, and fierce anti-racist. Noel Ignatiev had a singular and memorable voice, here preserved for posterity. We will need his ideas and example moving forward.”
—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History

“This collection of Noel Ignatiev’s writings over the past six decades could not come at a more important time in the struggle against white supremacy; they are as pertinent today as they were when they were written.”
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

“Noel Ignatiev was a tiller in the field of identity studies long before most of us even knew there was such a field. Beyond that, he located the field at the crossroads of race and class. He was an important, innovative thinker, as well as a committed activist for social justice.”
—Russel Banks, author of Continental Drift and Cloudsplitter

“Noel Ignatiev was a giant in one of the most important fields of research to emerge in recent times: how was it that those who had been warring on the shores of Europe on religious and ethnic grounds were magically transformed upon crossing the Atlantic into the new Identity Politics of ‘whiteness’? As the brilliant Ignatiev correctly suggests, the survival of humanity may very well hang on understanding this phenomenon—then acting decisively.”
—Gerald Horne, author of White Supremacy Confronted: US Imperialism and Anti-Communism versus the Liberation of Southern Africa, from Rhodes to Mandela

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Escape From New York II

I am excited to see "Escape from New York," a selection of excerpts from Captives chronicling the rich tradition of escapes from NYC jails, now available as a zine from my pals at Ill Will. Check it out here, and consider supporting their excellent work.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Captives on Kite Line

I went back to see my friends at Kite Line Radio for a two-part discussion of Captives and the lessons of Rikers history for abolitionists today. Check out Part 1 now, look out for Part 2 next week, and never miss an episode of this crucial program.

Update 7/1: Part 2 is now available here.

Friday, June 10, 2022

A.M. Speaks

Last month I was happy to host the Chicago stop of A.M. Gittlitz's #READTHEGREENBOOK tour at Pilsen Community Books. Now the audio is available for listening here.

We discussed Gittlitz’s book I Want To Believe, the enigmatic Latin American revolutionary J. Posadis, the enduring legacy of twentieth century radicalism, revolutionary politics in 2022, meme culture, internet irony, vibe shifts, and why so many dedicated micro-sects turn into cringey cults.

If you haven't picked up this book yet, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Discussion with David Campbell

I recently sat down with good friend and former political prisoner David Campbell, who spent a year at Rikers during the height of Covid, for a lively exchange now transcribed and available on Truthout. We discussed Captives, captivity, and the lessons we have drawn from our respective experiences. Click here to read it.

David is working hard to rebuild his life post-release. If you enjoy this content, consider pledging to his Patreon.

On WBAI's Equal Rights and Justice

I appeared on Mimi Rosenberg's Equal Rights and Justice radio program on WBAI this morning to discuss Captives. It was wonderful to be able to discuss my history of Rikers with people who have spent time working there. Thanks to Mimi for this opportunity and for having me on the show. You can listen here.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

More Reviews of Captives

I am happy to have seen two excellent new reviews of Captives:

Scott W. Stern, "Rikers Island Has Made Us All Prisoners," in Jacobin

 A.M. Gittlitz, "Rikers, What Good Do You Think You Do?" in The Brooklyn Rail

I thank these readers for their time, attention, and generosity.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Every Fire Needs a Little Bit of Help

I have a piece in the special issue of End Notes commemorating the two year anniversary of the George Floyd Rebellion. Click here to read it.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

It's Going Down

I stopped by the It's Going Down podcast to discuss Captives, Rikers history, and the present horizon for abolition. Check it out here, and be sure to support IGD's important work.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Read the Green Book

I am happy to be hosting my old pal Andy Gittlitz for the Chicago leg of the Read the Green Book Tour, belatedly celebrating the release of his book I Want to Believe: Posadism, UFOs, and Apocalypse Communism (Pluto Press, 2020). I love this book!

We will discuss Posadism and many related themes at Pilsen Community Books on Friday, May 27th at 7pm. Be sure to support this important community space and pick up Andy's awesome book.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Initial Reviews for Captives

A two-page spread in the 5/22 Daily News
There have been some excellent reviews of Captives so far:

Abby Cunniff, "Brutal Island," in Los Angeles Review of Books

Kay Gabriel, "The Island," in The Nation 

Brendan O'Connor, "The Long Crisis on Rikers Island," in The Baffler

Jacqueline Cutler, "Chronicling Rikers Island's Descent from Humane Jail to Lawless Lockup," in the New York Daily News

Thanks to these critics for their time and careful attention. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

States of Incarceration

I had a lively and generative discussion with Zhana and Shemon at Red May's "States of Incarceration" panel!

The panel can be viewed here

Thanks to Shemon for facilitating and the Red May comrades for setting this up. Zhana and my book States of Incarceration will be out in September, and can be pre-ordered here.

Be sure to check out the rest of Red May's excellent programming. All panels are available to view online. And please consider becoming a contributor so Red May can resume in person next year!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Rikers Disliker

I stopped by to see my old friends at the Antifada and talk about Captives and its implications for understanding mass incarceration and reform today. Check out the episode here and consider becoming a patron!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Escape from New York

Captives officially drops today, and I am excited to offer a short excerpt thanks to my pals Ill Will. These two passages offer a glimpse of the rich tradition of ingenious escapes from New York City jails in the 1970s. Check it out here. And if you haven't already, pick up the book from Verso.

Monday, May 16, 2022

How Rikers Island Made New York City

I recently sat down for an excellent discussion with Alana Mohamed of the freshly-launched New York City publication Hell Gate. We discussed the central themes of Captives and their application to understanding Rikers and NYC today. Check it out here, and be sure to keep an eye on Hell Gate!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Community Book Store Event 5/17

On Tuesday May 17th, at 7:30pm ET, Zhana and I will be taking part in an online discussion of Captives hosted by Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We have had some great discussions at our Chicago-area events, and hope to see you there! It can be accessed here. 

Update 5/18: the video of this event can be viewed here. Thanks to Community Bookstore and everyone who attended!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Policing the City

I had a great discussion with some excellent historians at the Red May "Policing the City" panel! 

The panel can be viewed here. 

Thanks to Dan Berger for facilitating, and my co-panelists Donna Murch and Annie Gray Fischer. 

Be sure to check out the rest of Red May's excellent programming, including a panel with my old friends Zhandarka Kurti and Shemon Salam later this month!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Red May 2022

I am excited to be featured on two panels at this year's Red May! These events will be remote and viewable on Red May TV as they happen, and will be available to view afterward.

The first, on Sunday May 8th, is called "Policing the City." It features the excellent historians Donna Murch, Anne Gray Fischer, and Dan Berger. I will be discussing Captives.

The second, on Friday, May 20th, is called "States of Incarceration." It features old friends and activist-scholars Shemon Salam and Zhandarka Kurti. Zhana and I will be discussing our forthcoming book States of Incarceration (Field Notes/Reaktion, 2022).

Both events are at 3pm PT.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Two Chicago-Area Release Events for Captives

I am excited to announce two Chicago-area release events for Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage.

The first event will be at Loyola University (Lake Shore Campus), on Wednesday April 27th, at 5:30pm in room 109 of Cuneo Hall.

The second will be at Governors State University, In University Park, IL, on Monday, May 2nd, at 2pm, in room B1200. 

Both events will be discussions of Captives with my wonderful colleague Zhandarka Kurti.

Copies of the book will be available for the first time. If you cannot make it, and would like to pre-order the book in advance of its May 17th release, you can do so here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Pre-order Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage

I am excited to announce the coming release of my book Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage (448 pp., Verso) on May 17th.

Click here to pre-order the book today

From the jacket: "Captives combines a thrilling account of Rikers Island’s descent into infamy with a dramatic retelling of the last seventy years of New York politics from the vantage point of the city’s jails. It is a story of a crowded field of contending powers—city bureaucrats and unions, black power activists and guards, crooked cops and elected leaders—struggling for power and influence, a tale culminating in mass incarceration and the triumph of neoliberalism. It is a riveting chronicle of how the Rikers Island of today—and the social order it represents—came to be."

I also am highly honored to have the book released to this advance praise from a number of excellent activists and scholars:

Captives is an amazingly detailed journey into a New York City jails system fueled by capitalist greed, political expediency, and racist exploitation. Conditions have deteriorated on Rikers Island even compared to the oppressive and inhumane environment that I experienced detained as a 16-year-old member of the New York Panther 21. Jarrod Shanahan’s incisive history challenges us to thought and action. The longer Rikers stays open and the push for new carceral facilities continues, the longer our collective humanity remains caged.”

“Rikers Island has the same relationship to New York as his picture did to Dorian Gray in the famous story by Oscar Wilde: the notorious super-jail is the grotesque face of the institutional cruelty and racism that lies behind so much of the Big Apple’s preening dazzle. Shanahan, who personally experienced Rikers’ violence, has crafted a masterpiece of synthesized social observation, analytic history and political critique. Now that the city has a new mayor who loudly champions the jailers and bad cops, Captives is urgent and obligatory reading.”

“Shanahan’s lively must-read explains the power politics shaping New York City’s municipal lockup frenzy.”

Captives reveals the long history of racial oppression and unaccountable violence in the Rikers Island jail complex that has been hidden in plain sight … This extraordinary book demonstrates the centrality of jails to life in New York City.”

Captives is more than a history of the notorious Rikers Island; it is a riveting, caged bird’s-eye view of the tumultuous shift from postwar liberal dreams of penal reform to neoliberal punishment, police power, and the rise of the carceral state. Ultimately, it is a book about class struggle—how we got from ‘build better’ to ‘lock ’em up’ to ‘shut it down.’”

Captives is an important and timely book that vividly depicts how decades of class struggle and oppression, especially along the lines of race and gender, shaped the rise of Rikers Island as we know it today. A must read!”

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Death to The Walking Dead

To mark the final season of AMC's blockbuster series The Walking Dead, I have a new essay in Hard Crackers reflecting on the show's political imagination and position in U.S. popular culture. Read it here, and join me in paying final respects to a show I have loved to hate for over a decade.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Carceral Non-Profits and the Limits of Prison Reform

Zhana and I have an article in ACME: A Journal of Critical Geography, entitled "Carceral Non-Profits and the Limits of Prison Reform." In it we follow-up on our 2019 article "Rebranding Mass Incarceration: The Lippman Commission and Carceral Devolution in New York City," by theorizing the social role of the non-profit institutions surrounding the New York City jail expansion plan. Read it here.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Blue Lives Matter and the U.S. Counter-Subversive Tradition

Tyler Wall and I sat down with Political Research Associates to discuss our research into far-right organizing among US police, specifically the Blue Lives Matter movement and the presence of cops in the Capitol siege. Check it out here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Earth II

I wrote a lengthy review of Earth II, the latest instant classic from the pro-Situationist film collective the Anti-Banality Union. Read it here.

Friday, December 10, 2021

On Kite Line Radio

Zhana and I visited our friends at Kite Line Radio to discuss our ongoing research into the nexus of non-profits surrounding the US punishment system. Check out part one of our interview here, and never miss a week of Kite Line!

Update 12/18: part two is now available here.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Dangerous Games on Rikers Island

I have a new piece in Truthout examining the role of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association in the ongoing humanitarian crisis on Rikers Island.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

"Tell Everyone"

Zhana and I have a new essay reviewing the Candyman reboot and reflecting on the film's history, the legacy of Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects, and the state of political consciousness in the US in the wake of the George Floyd Rebellion.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Acceptable Men Book Release Event Sunday 9/25

I am honored to be speaking alongside Zhana at the Gary, Indiana release event for Noel Ignatiev's memoir Acceptable Men at the Nelson Algren 616 Soundstage (616 S. Lake Street) at 5pm Sunday, September 25th. Gary is an important setting for this excellent book and its a real treat to be celebrating its release there! Thanks to the comrades at Charles H. Kerr for putting this together and doing such a great job on the book.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

America on Fire

Zhana and I have a review of Elizabeth Hinton's new book America on Fire (Liveright, 2021) available to read now in the September issue of the Brooklyn Rail. Never miss an issue!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Covid and the Capitalist World System

Zhana and I will be appearing at this year's annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, as part of a panel called Covid and the Capitalist World System. We are speaking on Saturday, 4:15 p.m. ET alongside some excellent scholars, and will be presenting a work in progress about the pandemic and last summer's rebellion. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

New Issue of Race & Class

Race & Class Volume 63, Number 1 is now available. It contains Tyler Wall and my article "'Fight the Reds, Support the Blue': Blue Lives Matter and the US Counter-subversive Tradition," in addition to a number of articles by some excellent scholars. You can get it here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Hard Crackers Issue Eight

Issue Eight of Hard Crackers: Chronicles of Everyday Life is now available!  It features writing from Kadeem Johnson, Marty Brown, and lots of regulars, including an editorial taking stock of the year 2020. Order your copy and read the editorial here.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Racism on a Global Scale

I had the honor of participating in the two-day conference Racism on a Global Scale at Singapore University of Social Sciences. You can view the panel here. Anyone interested in further reading on the history I discuss should begin with David Roediger and Elizabeth Esch's The Production of Difference, the main book I was drawing from in my prepared remarks.