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Abolitionist Feminism: Discussing How We Heal Through Art

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

On March 9th, the Memorialize the Movement (MTM) team visited Dr. Myrl Beam’s Abolition Feminism class at Macalester College to engage in a classroom discussion. Professor Beam’s course explores the history and politics of, and theoretical approaches to, gender and sexuality in relation to the racial politics of mass incarceration, or what Ruth Wilson Gilmore calls the “carceral geography” of the United States. By engaging recent work in queer and trans studies, feminist studies, and critical prison studies, the course considers how prisons and policing have shaped the making and remaking of race, gender, and sexuality from slavery and conquest to the contemporary period. They examine how police and prisons have regulated the body, identity, and populations, and the larger social, political, and cultural changes connected to these processes.

At MTM we see an intersection between abolition and feminism directly represented in our team. MTM’s staff and interns consist solely of femmes of color who seek to address issues of gender, race, and class in relation to art conservation and preservation. Through colonial museum practices, we see that the art conservation systems disproportionately affect marginalized communities, particularly Black and Brown women of color. For this reason MTM places a strong emphasis on transformative justice and community-based solutions to issues of public erasure and lack of representation in museum fields. By centering the experiences and stories of marginalized communities of color, abolitionist feminism offers a framework for creating a more just and equitable society.

During our talk, the students in Professor Beam’s class asked engaging questions about how MTM embodies abolitionist feminism. Some of the ways we reimagine community healing is through events such as our Annual Justice for George Exhibitions and our monthly Paint to Express workshops.

This was the first time the team attended and participated in a classroom discussion. When the team listened to details of how Leesa started collecting murals back in 2020, the conversation gave the team a better understanding of why it was urgent to collect the murals and reinforced our drive to continue preserving the murals for future generations. We hope to continue engaging in more conversations to reimagine the framework of community-based healing remembrance. We would like to thank Professor Beam and their class for inviting us to participate in the discussion of abolition feminism.

Here is a video which shows the classroom discussion!

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