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Abolition in the UK

“Abolition requires that we change one thing: everything.” Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Over the summer, scores of protestors and organisers made it clear: the UK is not innocent. What then, does justice look like here – and what does abolition mean for the UK?

The first panel in this series looks at abolition movements in the UK, and how we might meet but also go beyond the powerful calls to defund the police and close prisons.

Spanning the work of organisations and campaigns against criminalisation, racism, border violence, gender, prisons and other carceral institutions – we will be looking at what networks and collective histories we can draw lessons from in forging abolitionist paths. We will talk through movement challenges, how wider systems of violence are enforced and what it is that makes abolition so essential.

We are delighted that our speakers are:

Sita Balani, a lecturer in contemporary literature and culture whose work explores the relationship between imperialism and identity in contemporary Britain; Farheen Ahmed, public / immigration law caseworker and member of Legal Sector Workers United trade union; Amal, an anti-psychiatry and prison abolitionist community organiser who works with the Prisoner Solidarity Network (PSN) and Queercare; and Harry Josephine Giles, a writer and performer who makes “art about protest and protest about art”. Chaired by Josh Virasami, an artist, writer and political organiser involved in movements such as UK Black Lives Matter and London Renters Union.


We can build a different world is a weekly panel series throughout September 2020 exploring abolition and mutual aid in the UK. This series is programmed by Elio Beale and organised as a collaboration between Decriminalised Futures, Abolitionist Futures and Verso, with support from Arika.

“Abolition is building the future from the present, in all of the ways we can” writes Ruthie Wilson Gilmore. The worlds we wish to live in already exist: we can see them in our minds, we can taste them on our tongues. Through mutual aid, solidarity, care and imagination we translate these dreams into vivid realities. Whether it be flamboyant acts of resistance or small, daily gestures of affection, our collective struggle builds our collective power. We can realise our hopes and visions and plans. We can remember where we’ve come from. We can build a different world.

This panel series brings together activists, organisers, academics, artists, thinkers, and speakers for a weekly discussion event exploring abolition and mutual aid in the UK. Our intention is to approach these sometimes difficult conversations with joy and warmth. We wish to celebrate our collective knowledge, indulge our curiosity, and to come together in a spirit of sharing and collaboration.

  • Speakers

    Sita Balani, Farheen Ahmed, Amal, Harry Josephine Giles, Josh Virasami

  • Date

    September, 2020

  • Themes

    abolition, psychiatry, migration, criminalisation, borders, racism, gender


Below is a list of groups, readings, and resources mentioned during the panel.

Preventing Prevent
Trans National Institute report
Cage Prisoners Website and report
Consented Youth resource
Thread By Leah
Radical Transfeminism Zine
Edinburgh Actions for Trans Health Manifesto
The Limits of Trans Liberalism by Nat Raha
Turn Illness into a Weapon

Groups & Organisations:

United Voices of the World
Project LETS
Mutual Aid Trans Edinburgh
Bent Bars


Franz Fanon - The Wretched of the Earth
Nadine El-Enany - (B)ordering Britain
Stella Dadzie - A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery and Resistance.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha - Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice
Vikki Law - Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women
Vikki Law & China Martens - Don't Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities


This panel does not currently have a transcript. We will be updating this section of the website with a completed transcript soon.