“Abolition Is…” — A Roundtable

As the language and logics of prison industrial complex (PIC) abolitionism enter the liberal mainstream, they also become subject to increased co-optation, bastardization, and de-radicalization. Black rage, Black grief, and Black militancy are incorporated, distorted, and sold back to us as Black capitalism, Black punditry, and Black “representation” in electoral politics. Burning police precincts becomes an appeal for small budgetary concessions. “Abolish” becomes “Defund” becomes “Reform.” We make promises for more diversity and more inclusion. We issue statements and elect the “lesser” of two evils. From the academy, we get what Joy James terms “academic abolitionism” – the rhetoric of abolition so severed from any Black radical, working-class, or grassroots origins that it no longer has radical potential. “There is nothing about the academy that has revolutionary desire,” James notes in a 2019 lecture, “And if abolitionism is about revolutionary desire, then you’re caught in a contradiction.” We become ahistorical about abolition. Business continues as usual.

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Inauguration 2021: a Roundtable

As Joe Biden’s inauguration looms, we at Insurrect! have turned our attention to transitions, both democratic and antidemocratic, in United States history. Over the last few months, the world has witnessed the attempted judicial overthrow of a presidential election and the breaching of the U.S. Capitol by a white supremacist mob. With these events in mind, we asked three early career scholars: In light of this year’s regime change, how have you been thinking about transfers of power in your own scholarship? 

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A letter from the Managing Editors: Introducing our Launch Fundraiser

Today, anti-racist and anti-imperialist writing about early American history is under threat from austerity, executive orders, and historical erasure. Universities are exploiting the economic crisis to continue slashing budgets, the academic job market has collapsed entirely, and U.S. white nationalist mythmaking continues to hold sway within a violent police state and a chaotic election season. As early-career scholars facing these dire circumstances, we founded Insurrect! to honor the ongoing resistance to settler violence, slavery, and imperialism in the colonial Americas. Our goal is to publish the writing of contingent and independent scholars, graduate students, archivists, and library and museum workers who do not have a voice in academia. Insurrect! is not just for academics, but for a public eager for radical change in historical writing.

In the final two weeks of October 2020, the Managing Editors of Insurrect! are holding a Launch Fundraiser so that we can compensate our writers and content editors. The content published by Insurrect! is made possible entirely by graduate students and contingent academic workers; compensating our writers and editors is therefore of the utmost importance to us. 

We are asking for your financial support so that we can continue to publish writing that confronts the histories, institutions, and narratives that perpetuate violence and inequality in our present.  

Our goal is to raise $10,500 to cover Insurrect!’s operating funds for the first quarter of our duration as a publication. This amount will enable us to continue publishing through February 2021, with fair rates for our writers and content editors, as well as support for upkeep and management. The work of the Managing Editors currently remains voluntary and uncompensated. Your donations to Insurrect!’s Patreon and Paypal accounts go directly to paying Insurrect!’s contributing authors and content editors. 

Join our Insurrect! community by making a monthly commitment or a one-time donation:


We appreciate your support.

In solidarity,
Insurrect!’s Managing Editors

Reflections on the Crisis at Hand: a Roundtable, Part 2

In part two of our roundtable, we start with a question posed by Efren Lopez: How might we funnel the labor and resources of the university, the museum, or any institution in which we work towards the Black Lives Matter movement, abolition, or insurrection more broadly? And what futures do you envision for these institutions that would make them fertile seedbeds for the sort of garden Bradley Craig describes—something capable of fostering “sustainability, care, and pleasure?”

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Reflections on the Crisis at Hand: a Roundtable, Part 1

Insurrect! is a new digital space for radical thinking in Early American Studies. Our first roundtable features early career researchers who are attuned to colonialism as an ongoing system of power, and whose work spans disciplines of study as well as geographies outside of nationalist borders. In response to the upheavals of 2020, the editorial team thought it only fitting to begin our roundtable by asking this question: How has this moment of anti-colonial uprisings and demonstrations by Black Lives Matter and Indigenous activists shifted your work in early American studies—either as a researcher, an educator, a curator, a public historian, or an activist?

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