Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Ruth Wilson Gilmore (born April 2, 1950) is a prison abolitionist and prison scholar. She is the Director of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics and professor of geography in Earth and Environmental Sciences at The City University of New York. She has been credited with "more or less single-handedly" inventing carceral geography, the “study of the interrelationships across space, institutions and political economy that shape and define modern incarceration”. She received the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Geographers.
- What I find the most exciting about being a geographer is thinking about how we make the world and make the world and make the world.
- freedom is a place. That it’s not like a destination, it’s the place that we make.
- What prison is and unfreedom is, is the extraction of time.
- the extraction of time from people who are detained, captured, disappeared, incarcerated is the annihilation of space by time, which is something that nappy haired philosopher Karl Marx said in the middle of the 19th century capitalism was busily doing to the planet, annihilating space by time. And so in taking back time in the various ways that we can provisionally is indeed part of the anti-capitalist struggle when it is part of the anti-capitalist struggle.
- what spurred and motivated a lot of people to very good organizing, starting with Bob Bullard’s Dumping in Dixie exposé of how environmental racism was encountered with impunity by these big corporations throwing lead, and you name it, various carcinogens into people’s water tables and so on and so forth.
- I learned as a child that despair is a luxury I just don’t have a right to.
- the relationship between large-scale capitalist activity and the forces of organized violence have been intimate for the entire history of capitalism
- The only way that inviolability has maintained its force overtime has been through the forces of organized violence standing between that concept of property and everybody else. That is it...the forces of organized violence, while very much tied to military uniforms, weapons, industrialized killing in that way, what Rosa Luxemburg called organized murder
- the economic sanctions and embargoes are no less expressions of organized violence that result in premature death than the military incursions.
- I continue to think that it is an unfortunate fact of everyday consciousness in the U.S. because of its racism and its sexism, that somehow the mere fact of representation is what the entire struggle has been for.
- There are all kinds of reasons to complain. Fine. That’s true of anything that we set ourselves out to do. We can complain about what’s wrong with the categories we have decided to embrace. But what abolition still gives us if we take it seriously, is a way of understanding that if freedom is a place, then abolition is life in rehearsal of making that place.
- Abolition seeks to undo the way of thinking and doing things that sees prison and punishment as solutions for all kinds of social, economic, political, behavioral and interpersonal problems. Abolition, though, is not simply decarceration, put everybody out on the street. It is reorganizing how we live our lives together in the world. And this is something that people are doing in a variety of ways throughout the United States and around the planet already.
- In other parts of the world, what one sees is a very simple fact: Where life is precious, life is precious. In places where the state, the government, municipalities, social justice organizations, faith communities, labor unions work together to lift up human life, the incidents of crime and punishment, including the incidents of interpersonal harm, are less likely to occur. And this is in places where populations are every bit as diverse as in the United States. We also see that in places where inequality is the deepest, the use of prison and punishment is the greatest. Nowhere, however, gets even close to the United States.
- There are many, many ways for us to think about organized abandonment, but that thinking should bring us to consider both how capital — large and small — and state — municipal or greater — work together to raise barriers to some kinds of people and lower them for others.
- Some of the leading abolitionists in the United States and around the world today are people like Mariame Kaba and Andrea Smith and Kelly Gillespie and others, who came out of work against domestic violence — i.e. it was in doing work to try to fight against violence and harm, that they realized abolition was the only way to resolve the problems that were not being resolved by having better, faster, more swift and sure punishment when somebody harmed somebody else.
- California was on a path to making what was an huge and bulging prison system to be bigger and bigger and bigger. And that’s where contemporary abolition movement in the United States took root. And we fought and fought and fought, throughout urban and rural California, making common cause with labor unions, healthcare workers, faith communities, environmental justice activists, and other, to denaturalize the notion that crime was the problem for which prisons and punishment was the right solution, as a result of which the number of people in California prisons is much lower than it was even imagined it could be in the year 2000, because of the work that abolitionists did.
Quotes about Ruth Wilson Gilmore edit
- I'm genuinely just so thrilled any time people are taking actions based on a principle and a belief that what does Ruth Wilson Gilmore say-where life is precious, life is precious. That makes me very excited and happy.
- Mariame Kaba, We Do This Til We Free Us (2021)