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Abolition: A World without Prisons & Police


This section highlights work being done across disciplines, programs, and centers at Tulane on abolition and related topics: policing and protest, incarceration and carcerality, the prison industrial complex, and violence prevention. It also includes information about abolitionist organizing on campus.

Violence Prevention Institute

Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design

Small Center is the community design center of the Tulane School of Architecture. They use their architecture skills to work with community-based organizations to provide design services for constituencies who are underserved by the architecture and design professions, often in the form of design drawings, graphic booklets, and small scale design/build construction. Staff, students, and faculty collaborate with the leadership and constituents of partnering nonprofit organizations throughout New Orleans.

School of Liberal Arts

Among the faculty in the School of Liberal Arts working on topics related to policing, the prison industrial complex, carcerality, and abolition are Dr. Andrea S. Boyles, Dr. Corey Miles, Dr. Gwen Prowse, and Dr. Patrick Rafail. Select publications:

Journal Articles & Book Chapters

Newcomb Art Museum

image of gallery at Unthinkable Imagination exhibition

Unthinkable Imagination: A Creative Response to the Juvenile Justice Crisis

On view January 21-June 10, 2023. An original exhibition exploring one of the most critical issues facing our communities today – mass incarceration. A follow up to the 2019 award-winning show Per(Sister) which explored the overlooked and misunderstood impacts of the carceral system on women, Unthinkable Imagination focuses the lens on young people’s experience with the justice system. Centering the voices and experiences of more than 20 system-impacted youth participants, the exhibition utilizes paintings, illustrations, photographs, performance, sculpture, sound, collage, and mural work to navigate this difficult topic. While addressing the history of the youth justice system in Louisiana, the root causes of the system, and the direct harm it does to young people and their families, the show constantly underscores what is truly lost when we give up on the youth of our state—their humanity. 

Epaul Julien’s ‘13th,’ (2018), based on the story of PerSister Dolita Wilhike, is on view at Newcomb Art Museum, which will host a panel on prison policy reform on June 8. (Image courtesy of the Newcomb Art Museum)

Per(Sister): Incarcerated Women of Louisiana

Newcomb Art Museum partnered with formerly incarcerated women, community organizations, stakeholders, and those directly impacted by the prison system to create the exhibition Per(Sister), which is intended to share the stories of currently and formerly incarcerated women in Louisiana, and shine a light on the myriad issues as identified and expressed by the women themselves. Their stories come to life through the pairing of a “persister” and an artist who created a work inspired by her story, other stories take the shape of voice recordings, or handwritten messages, all with the intention of challenging misconceptions and uninformed assumptions. By building awareness of the situations arising before, during and after incarceration, the exhibition Per(Sister) seeks to find common ground and pathways for society to empathetically move forward together. 

New Orleans Center for the Gulf South

The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University (NOCGS) is an interdisciplinary, place-based institute that promotes the understanding of New Orleans and the Gulf South region. NOCGS supports research, teaching, and community engagement that relate the local to the global and planetary. 

NOCGS programming often intersects with abolitionism. For example, in April 2023, they hosted a conversation with co-curators and artists of Insurgent Ecologies:


Invited Speakers

A virtual conversation with Dr. Dylan Rodriguez (UC Riverside), moderated by Dr. Samantha Francois (Tulane School of Social Work, Executive Director of the Violence Prevention Institute), on movements of radical social transformation and how to dismantle systems of oppression. Topics discussed include anti-racist/anti-colonial movements, abolition and the limitations of “social justice,” non-profit and university industrial complexes, and the role of institutions of higher education in leading social change. Co-sponsored by the Center for Engaged Learning & Teaching, the Center for Public Service, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and the Taylor Center for Social Innovation & Design Thinking.

Abolitionist Organizing

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