The California prison hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013 animated a new criticism of inhumane prison conditions that were articulated through the analytical and critical frameworks of incarcerated people and their families. Embracing Zapatismo as methodology I examine how the logics of the prison apparatus are uncovered through the hunger strike uprising. I argue that this prisoner-led movement, and the proposed models of organizing by families, provides direction toward alternative social and cultural relations necessary to recompose power. Importantly, their theorizing around criminalization offers us transformative visions and strategies for anti-prison organizing. As we learn the importance of listening, they disrupt the troubling ways human value is ascribed by a criminalizing national culture, and remind us of the sacredness of life.
Angelica Camacho is the Latina/Latino Studies 2017-18 Postdoctoral Research Fellow. She was a 2015 Ford Dissertation Fellow and received a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Riverside. In 2010, she acquired a B.A. in both Chicana/o Studies and Black Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her current research is on the Pelican Bay California Prisoner Hunger Strikes by incarcerated people and their families. Her intellectual work aims to shift the dominant narratives of criminality that target and scapegoat communities of color into counter-hegemonic narratives that highlight social struggles for life and liberation.