Beyond Walls and Cages
Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis

Edited by Jenna M. Loyd, Matt Mitchelson, and Andrew Burridge

Building movements of liberation and social justice across borders


"Dares to undertake a task of political emergency that is here, now, and deeply historical . . . The thinkers in this collection catalyze a series of debates, conversations, and imaginative possibilities that stretch and vitally distend the existing horizons and languages of abolitionist, human/immigrant rights, prison reform, and U.S. border activisms. A mind-boggling array of critical positions, all informed by on-the-ground political work, is present in these pages. No one will walk away from this book unchanged."
—Dylan Rodríguez, author of Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the U.S. Prison Regime

"Bringing together immigrant justice and antiprison organizing, this volume offers an unusual and enlightening mix of writing by scholars, activists, and artists. There is not a lot available on migrant detention, and from what this book tells us it is on the increase, with record numbers of people detained."
—Jennifer Hyndman, author of Managing Displacement: Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism

"This is an unashamedly partisan book, which nails its colours firmly to the anti-prison and immigrant justice masts – and the success of the collection is all the greater for it. A timely, insightful and diverse collection, it spans an enormous range of issues and perspectives and offers a rich discussion of the connections between prisons, migration policing and detention, border fortification and militarisation."
—Dominique Moran, Society and Space

"This is a radical book that strips away any pretense that prisons and policies designed to place as many people as possible in them can be humane. The writers herein issue a clear and thoughtful call to reconsider the entire concept of prisons that US society and its institutions have based their approach to dealing with the poor, non-white, and others with little power in their midst."
—Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch

"The diversity of voices and perspectives in one of the strengths of [Beyond Walls and Cages], taken collectively the reader is given a complex and multifaceted picture of imprisonment and detention. . . . [it is an] important contribution to the existing critical geographic scholarship on imprisonment and immigrant detention."
—Jill Williams, Antipode

Beyond Walls and Borders is a resounding ‘must-read’ for any activist, scholar, or those straddling worlds between.”
Ulises Moreno-Tabarez, The London School of Economics and Political Science Review of Books

"The interviews included in the collection perhaps provide the most coherent approaches to grappling with these issues. . . . Beyond Walls and Cages challenges the notion that the power granted to the state to enforce social separation is something natural and eternal."
—Kyle Barron, North American Congress on Latin America

"[T]his was a fascinating account of a regime of detention, imprisonment and containment. . . . [The book offers] considerable variety in approach."
—Heather Nicol, Journal of Borderland Studies

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The crisis of borders and prisons can be seen starkly in statistics. In 2011 some 1,500 migrants died trying to enter Europe, and the United States deported nearly 400,000 and imprisoned some 2.3 million people—more than at any other time in history. International borders are increasingly militarized places embedded within domestic policing and imprisonment and entwined with expanding prison-industrial complexes. Beyond Walls and Cages offers scholarly and activist perspectives on these issues and explores how the international community can move toward a more humane future.

Working at a range of geographic scales and locations, contributors examine concrete and ideological connections among prisons, migration policing and detention, border fortification, and militarization. They challenge the idea that prisons and borders create safety, security, and order, showing that they can be forms of coercive mobility that separate loved ones, disempower communities, and increase shared harms of poverty. Walls and cages can also fortify wealth and power inequalities, racism, and gender and sexual oppression.

As governments increasingly rely on criminalization and violent measures of exclusion and containment, strategies for achieving change are essential. Beyond Walls and Cages develops abolitionist, no borders, and decolonial analyses and methods for social change, showing how seemingly disconnected forms of state violence are interconnected. Creating a more just and free world—whether in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands, the Morocco-Spain region, South Africa, Montana, or Philadelphia—requires that people who are most affected become central to building alternatives to global crosscurrents of criminalization and militarization.

Contributors: Olga Aksyutina, Stokely Baksh, Cynthia Bejarano, Anne Bonds, Borderlands Autonomist, Collective, Andrew Burridge, Irina Contreras, Renee Feltz, Luis A. Fernandez, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Amy Gottlieb, Gael Guevara, Zoe Hammer, Julianne Hing, Subhash Kateel, Jodie M. Lawston, Bob Libal, Jenna M. Loyd, Lauren Martin, Laura McTighe, Matt Mitchelson, Maria Cristina Morales, Alison Mountz, Ruben R. Murillo, Joseph Nevins, Nicole Porter, Joshua M. Price, Said Saddiki, Micol Seigel, Rashad Shabazz, Christopher Stenken, Proma Tagore, Margo Tamez, Elizabeth Vargas, Monica W. Varsanyi, Mariana Viturro, Harsha Walia, Seth Freed Wessler.

Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation

Page count: 344 pp.
11 b&w photos
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Jenna M. Loyd is an independent scholar. Matt Mitchelson is an assistant professor of geography at Kennesaw State University. Andrew Burridge is a research associate in the International Boundaries Research Unit of the Department of Geography at Durham University.