Alternative Pedagogy Conference: Resisting Carceral Logic: Strategies for Creating Educational Spaces in Prison

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Date(s) - Friday, 03/30/2018
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Cranbrook Academy of Art


This presentation and discussion will focus on systems of education as they relate to the prison industrial complex; the state of education and arts based programming in Michigan prisons today, strategies for resisting the impediments of carceral logic as it pertains to education behind bars, and collaborative pedagogical processes between incarcerated and non-incarcerated people by which change can be initiated. Speakers include James D. Thomas and Jonathan Rajewski.
James D. Thomas is a writer, activist, and former juvenile lifer, sentenced at 15 years old to mandatory life without parole in 1987. Now understood as unconstitutional, James was released in 2017 after thirty years of incarceration. During his time in prison, Thomas was a key organizer of the Writer’s Block, a weekly workshop and space in prison for the proliferation of poetry, art, prose, philosophy, political thinking and activism, as well as several other arts and education based initiatives in prison. His writing and work has been featured in The New Yorker, the late Michigan Citizen, and Critical Moment, among others. He recently presented on the prison industrial complex at the 2017 Allied Media Conference at Wayne State University. He currently lives and works in Detroit, MI.
Jonathan Rajewski is an artist, activist, and co-founder of the Hamtramck Free School. He received his BA in Philosophy from Michigan State University in 2009. Since 2013, Rajewski has been an active participant and co-organizer of the Writer’s Block. In 2017 he was suspended from the program by the Michigan Department of Corrections due to reasons the State has yet to specify. He has organized three exhibitions of incarcerated artwork, including one at the Detroit Institute of Arts and another within the prison itself. His own work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Jack Hanley Gallery, Reyes Projects, among others. He is a 2015 Kresge Fellow in Visual Art and lives in Hamtramck, MI.