Organizing Within, Against, and Beyond the State: Martin Sostre and the Struggle for Prison Abolition

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Monday, November 29th, 2021

Monday, November 29, 20212:00PM - 3:30PMOnline Event, Online Event
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Historian and organizer Garrett Felber, Visiting Faculty Fellow at Yale University, will discuss abolitionist lessons from his biography-in-progress of Black Puerto Rican anarchist and former U.S. political prisoner Martin Sostre. First as a politicized prisoner and jailhouse lawyer, and later as a political prisoner who was framed during the 1967 Buffalo rebellion while running a radical bookstore, Sostre embodied the dialectical transformations between self and society which led him to lead a life of “continuous struggle.” Sostre creatively adapted law, solitary confinement, surveillance, and organized abandonment to disrupt state violence and create life-affirming communities. His ideas and deeds formed architectures of resistance within the scaffolding of an oppressive state that provide a variety of illustrations for movements organizing within, against, and beyond it today.

Garrett Felber, Yale University
Garrett Felber received his B.A. in English from Kalamazoo College, a M.A. in African American Studies from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is an interdisciplinary historian whose work focuses on 20th-century social movements, the Black radical tradition, and the carceral state. Felber’s Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam, the Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State (UNC Press, 2020) received the Merle Curti Intellectual History Award from the Organization of American Historians and was a finalist for the Museum of African American History’s Stone Book Award and the African American Intellectual History Society’s Pauli Murray Book Award. He is co-author of The Portable Malcolm X Reader (Penguin 2013) with Manning Marable and has published articles in the Journal of American History, Journal of African American History, Journal of Social History, Souls, and South African Music Studies.

Brett Story, Ryerson University
Brett Story is a geographer and award-winning non-fiction filmmaker. Her films have screened at True/False, Oberhausen, Hot Docs, the Viennale, and Dok Leipzig, among other international festivals. Her second feature-length film, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016) was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and was a nominee for Best Canadian Feature Documentary at the Canadian Screen Awards. Her interests across the fields of documentary and critical theory are expansive, and include experimental cinema and essay films, politics and aesthetics, racial capitalism and Marxist political economy, and visual geography. Brett holds a PhD in geography from the University of Toronto and is the author of a forthcoming book titled Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America from the University of Minnesota Press. She was a 2016 Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow and is a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow.

Max Mishler, University of Toronto, History Department and the Center for the Study of the United States
Mishler specializes in the transnational history of the United States, with a focus on slavery and abolition, incarceration, and the history of capitalism.


Mio Otsuka


Garrett Felber
Visiting Facutly Fellow, Yale University

Brett Story
Assistant Professor, Ryerson University

Max Mishler
Assistant Professor, University of Toronto

Nicholas Sammond
Opening Remarks
Director, Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto

Khaleel Grant
PhD Student, History Department, University of Toronto

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