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A Critical Phenomenology of Solidarity and Resistance in the 2013 California Prison Hunger Strikes

Much depends on the battle to define the kind of social group that organized the 2013 hunger strikes. Was it an activist group engaged in a non-violent human rights struggle, or was it an alliance of gang leaders manipulating the prison system, the public, and vulnerable prisoners in order to enhance their power? Could it be both? Without taking a position on whether members of the Short Corridor Collective are, or ever were, gang members or leaders, I want to analyze the emergence of collective agency and organizational power in the Pelican Bay SHU. How did such agency and power emerge from the extreme isolation of the Pelican Bay SHU, among people who might otherwise be divided by social, material, and institutional barriers? And what might we learn from their example about the phenomenology of social encounters, the structure of collective action, and the political possibilities for effective resistance in an age of mass incarceration and extreme punishment? (Read More)