This blog is designed to further the conversations begun in our book Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists, edited by Ashley Lucas and Jodie Michelle Lawston, published by SUNY Press in 2011. (You can buy it here, here, or here, or preview it here.) This important collection illustrates how the arts and the social sciences not only can, but must, work together to illuminate the lives of imprisoned women.
“Jodie Michelle Lawston and Ashley E. Lucas have created a powerful call to action, a reminder that resistance is not futile. With powerful images, testimony, intersectional theorizing, and examples of educational and visual organizing, Razor Wire Women offers essential readings for organizers and scholars—both inside and outside of women’s prisons and detention centers. This is a central read for courses in women’s and gender studies, justice, and sociology, and for all invested in interrupting our nation’s expanding carceral nation.” — Erica R. Meiners, author of Right to Be Hostile: Schools, Prisons, and the Making of Public Enemies
Here on this blog, we link to reviews and also to news and analysis relevant to the issues surrounding women and incarceration. We also write about the ways in which incarceration shapes women’s lives and post the reflections, poetry, and visual art sent to us by incarcerated people and their families. As professors adopt this book for courses on women’s studies, gender studies, criminal justice, sociology, and other topics, we will feature lesson plans and discussion geared to help educators make the most of this invaluable resource. Hopefully, in a small way, this site will help make visible what women prisoners experience–and the hope and resilience of which they are still capable.
Website Editor Biographies
Jodie Michelle Lawston is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at California State University-San Marcos. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego. Lawston’s first book, entitled Sisters Outside: Radical Activists Working for Women Prisoners (State University of New York Press 2009), examines women’s grassroots resistance efforts against the expanding carceral system. Her research interests include women’s incarceration, prison expansion, immigrant detention, and social justice movements. Her scholarly publications include articles in the anthologies and journals (Re) Interpretations: The Shapes of Justice in Women’s Experience, Milestones for American Women: Our Defining Passages, Gender and Society, Social Justice, Sociological Focus, and the National Women’s Studies Association Journal. She was also a member of the Critical Resistance Editorial Board for the book Abolition Now! Ten Years of Strategy and Struggle Against the Prison Industrial Complex (2008). Lawston’s next book project, for which she is currently conducting research, is an examination and exploration of the ways in which the discourses that advocate detention and incarceration—as proper enforcement of immigration and criminal law—converge. She serves as president of the Action Committee for Women in Prison and advises students on advocating for incarcerated women. Together with Ashley Lucas, Lawston guest edited a special issue of the National Women’s Studies Association Journal on the topic of “Women and Criminal Justice: Policing, Prosecution, and Incarceration,” which was published in August 2008. Lucas and Lawston also collaborated on an edited volume entitled Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists (SUNY Press 2011). In her spare time, Lawston is an avid cyclist and rides for Team Luna Chix in San Diego, California.
Ashley Lucas is Associate Professor of Theatre & Drama and Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) at the University of Michigan. She holds a B.A. in Theater Studies and English from Yale University and a joint Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies and Theatre and Drama from UC San Diego. She is a fellow of the Ford Foundation, the UNC Faculty Engaged Scholars Program, and UNC’s Institute for Arts and Humanities. Her research and teaching interests include U.S. Latina/o theatre, prison-related theatre, theatre for social change, and related topics in acting, playwriting, and comparative ethnic studies. Lucas is also the author of an ethnographic play about the families of prisoners entitled Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass, which she has performed as a one-woman show throughout the U.S. and in Ireland and Canada. Her book manuscript, entitled We All Looking at Walls: Ethnographic Theatre in Prison Contexts, is currently under review at University of Michigan Press. Lucas was recently invited to be the lead writer for the Methuen Critical Companion on Prison Theatre, for which she is now conducting research on prison theatre in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. Her scholarly publications include articles in the Journal of American Drama and Theatre, the Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Latin American Theater Review, and GESTOS: Teoría y Práctica del Teatro Hispánico. Together with sociologist Jodie Lawston, Lucas guest edited a special issue of the National Women’s Studies Association Journal on the topic of “Women and Criminal Justice: Policing, Prosecution, and Incarceration” (Summer 2008). Lucas and Lawston also collaborated on an edited volume entitled Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists (SUNY Press 2011) and write a blog by the same title: https://razorwirewomen.wordpress.com.
Philip Christman lives with his wife, Ashley Lucas, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He holds an MA in English Literature from Marquette University and an MFA in fiction writing from University of South Carolina-Columbia. He currently teaches English composition at the University of Michigan and is the Editor of the Prison Creative Arts Project’s Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing. His writing has appeared in Paste, Annalemma, Books & Culture, Identity Theory, The Christian Century,The Mercy Review, NWSA Journal, and other places. He also designed this website and serves as a writing coach/consultant and has worked with scholars in theatre, history, political science, and other fields. To read more of his writing or to hire him as a writing consultant or blogger, go to http://philipchristman.com/