The United States currently has the largest prison population on the planet. Over the last four decades, structural unemployment, concentrated urban poverty, and mass homelessness have also become permanent features of the political economy. These developments are without historical precedent, but not without historical explanation. In this searing critique, Jordan T. Camp traces the rise of the neoliberal carceral state through a series of turning points in U.S. history including the Watts insurrection in 1965, the Detroit rebellion in 1967, the Attica uprising in 1971, the Los Angeles revolt in 1992, and events in post-Katrina New Orleans in 2005. Incarcerating the Crisis argues that these dramatic events coincided with the emergence of neoliberal capitalism and the state’s attempts to crush radical social movements. Through an examination of the poetic visions of social movements—including those by James Baldwin, Marvin Gaye, June Jordan, José Ramírez, and Sunni Patterson—it also suggests that alternative outcomes have been and continue to be possible.
Jordan T. Camp is Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
"Incarcerating the Crisis offers carefully researched accounts of major historical conjunctures, elucidating how ideologies of race and criminalization have been central to the neoliberal expansion of policing and prisons. But at the same time, Camp attends to the poetic imaginaries that generate necessary hope and possible futures."—Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Incarcerating the Crisis is a work of staggering insight, bold imagination, and political urgency. In what may be described as a genealogy of neoliberal racial and security regimes, Jordan Camp skillfully demonstrates how moral panics are also racial panics, with the threat to social order displaced onto black and brown bodies either warehoused in prisons, colonized in ghettoes, or drowning in flood waters. Essential reading for anyone interested in race, neoliberalism, and social movements—mandatory for anyone interested in liberation."—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
"Incarcerating the Crisis carefully delineates how political elites translated the crisis of Jim Crow capitalism into the neoliberal racial security state, the brutal regime that disavows racism while caging and killing the racially and economically marginalized. But the brilliance of Camp’s work is in illuminating the contingencies within this history of the racialization of security. The path from plantation to prison was not inescapable. Along with the prose of repression there was also a poetics of resistance, an insurgent polyculturalism that created exit signs and even hope."—Naomi Murakawa, author of The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America
“Incarcerating the Crisis movingly resists the temptation to imagine that our plight results from social movements being so easily defeated. Again and again Camp shows with sober analysis and passionate care that popular creativity and resistance were the very stuff to which brutal neoliberal policies responded and have continued to respond. An eloquent, learned, and optimistic study by an important new voice in American Studies.”—David Roediger, author of Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All