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The Transmission Line:
Empire & Abolition

In the UK and globally, abolitionists struggle under the long shadow of empire. This panel will explore the role of the British Empire in the development of carceral state apparatus, and how this specific colonial history (and present) relates to abolition work today.

How do we understand calls to defund the police, abolish prisons, or end anti-migrant enforcement in the context of the British Empire? How do calls to reinvest public funding in Britain into generative, life-giving alternatives to policing sit alongside the violent extraction of that wealth historically? How is the legacy of Empire enforced today, and what strategies do we have available to resist this?

Speaking on this panel will be Nadine El-Enany, author of (B)ordering Britain: Law, Race and Empire; Kojo Koram, editor of The War on Drugs and the Global Colour Line; Becka Hudson, researcher exploring mental health diagnosis within the UK prison system; Gracie Mae Bradley, writer on critical human rights, state racism, surveillance and abolition; and Stella Dadzie, teacher, writer, artist and education activist, co-author of The Heart of the Race: Black Women’s lives in Britain and founding member of OWAAD (Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent).


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

    Nadine El-Enany,
    Kojo Koram, Becka Hudson, Gracie Mae Bradley,
    Stella Dadzie

  • Date

    September, 2020

  • Themes

    empire, imperialism, colonialism, borders, drugs, drug trade, criminalisation, surveillance, human rights, racism, capitalism, wealth, psychiatry



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


Tarek Younis - The psychologisation of counter-extremism: unpacking PREVENT

Groups & Organisations:

Against Borders for Children
SOAS Detainee Support


Kojo Koram (ed) - The War on Drugs and the global colour line.
Nadine El-Enary - (B)ordering Britain: law, race and empire.
Stella Dadzie - A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery and Resistance.
Luke de Noronha - Deporting Black Britons: Portraits of Deportation to Jamaica.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore - Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore - Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California.


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