Little Hall, Hamilton, NY 13346, USA

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Professor Orisanmi Burton, assistant professor of anthropology at American University, is a social anthropologist working in the United States. His research examines the imbrication of grassroots resistance and state repression. Within this broad area of inquiry, his present work explores the collision of Black-led movements for social, political, and economic transformation with state infrastructures of militarized policing, surveillance, and imprisonment. He asks: how do Black radical demands generated within and against U.S. prisons presage alternative futures for people and places on both sides of prison walls? In what ways have state-organized responses to these demands - via diverse configurations of repression, reform, and incorporation – been key drivers of US historical development and state formation? Through what bureaucratic, ideological, and material processes is this dynamic political struggle transformed into an administrative problem of “criminal justice”? How can conceptualizing the US prison as a domain of war open new analytical, theoretical, and methodological terrain?

His first book, Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt  (2023), was published by University of California Press. In a brief post titled “Notes on Archival War,”  he discusses a methodological approach he developed in this book. The rich interdisciplinarity of his work is reflected in his publications in journals like The Black Scholar, American Anthropologist, and Radical History Review

This event will be co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) and Africana and Latin America Studies (ALST).

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