13/13 Seminar Series

At each session, two or three guests, from different disciplines, are invited to discuss the readings and present on the themes of the seminar, after which there is an open discussion on the presented themes and questions. Each seminar will host specialists from across the disciplines, from Columbia University and from outside campus. It will also frame and interrelate with a Paris Reading Group that will run alongside the seminar.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

We end our Abolition 13/13 series looking forward to the possibility of an abolitionist future with special consideration of reparations. What will it take to get there? What will it look like? How soon will we be there?


Thursday, April 1, 2021

“The feudal system was once deeply entrenched. So was the institution of slavery. For a long time, there was no real hope of changing those social systems. Yet criticism was still appropriate,” Joseph Carens argues. It is time, now, to ask fundamental questions about the justice of borders. This seminar will explore those questions in all their complexity, including the fraught relation between borders and colonialism. We will also discuss the movement to Abolish I.C.E.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

“Oil abolition implies social transformation—a systemic change toward collective freedom,” Reinhold Martin writes. In this seminar, we will explore the relation between fossil fuels and social inequality, and focus on efforts, like the Green New Deal, to abolish oil dependency.


Thursday, February 25, 2021

This seminar will explore the campaign to end the family policing system (child protection services and foster care) with one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the topic, Professor Dorothy Roberts.


Thursday, February 4, 2021

This session will discuss the decades-long effort to abolish prisons spearheaded by Angela Davis and Critical Resistance. It will also broach the topic of the deinstitutionalization of asylums and mental hospitals in the 1960s, which prefigured the abolition of total institutions, but also points to certain risks and pitfalls of abolitionism.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

In this seminar, we will explore the hidden damage that death sentences and executions wreak on family members of the condemned, wardens and prison guards, attorneys, chaplains, and others. The hidden traumas have, so far, received too little attention in the long struggle to abolish the death penalty. And we turn to the abolition of the federal death penalty under the presidency of Joseph Biden.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

In 1973, Michel Foucault delivered a series of lectures at the Collège de France on The Punitive Society that tied together the exploitation of the working class to the invention of the prison. Foucault brought together the different strands of oppression—economic, social, carceral—under the larger rubric of a “punitive society.” “The punitive society”: the central idea at the core of the critique of our contemporary society as being a “punitive society” is perhaps the thread that unites all of the sessions this year in Abolition Democracy 13/13. Not surprisingly, it is woven into the fabric of W.E.B. Du Bois’s magisterial book, Black Reconstruction in America: the central problem of racial injustice, for Du Bois, is not limited to any one particular institution—whether it is slavery, convict leasing, plantation prisons, or Jim Crow—but attaches more broadly to the society that makes possible those specific institutions of injustice. It is precisely for this reason that Du Bois militated not just for the negative abolition of unjust practices and institutions, but for the radical transformation of society and political economy.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Abolition 13/13 is the 6th 13/13 seminar series held over the course of the academic year at the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought. These seminars focus, each year, on a different set of topics at the heart of contemporary critical thought and action in philosophy, politics, law, and social inquiry. The seminar for 2020-2021 will focus on abolition today and will work through the different dimensions of contemporary arguments for abolition (regarding the prison, the police, and the death penalty, but also the abolition of property, of capital, of coverture and marital dominion, of oil, and of borders). It will consider the history of the abolition of slavery and the lessons to be learned. It will explore the many arguments for different forms of abolition.

13/13 Seminar Series

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