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Seminar organized by Safae El Khannoussi el Bouidrin, Daniel Loick and Oscar Talbot.

The term “abolition democracy” was introduced by sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois in 1935 in his major work Black Reconstruction. One of his basic ideas was that mere formal emancipation from slavery is not enough, but must be accompanied by a fundamental political and economic reconfiguration of the entire society that made slavery possible. Similar perspectives were already developed in many anti-colonial liberation struggles, for example in the Caribbean: Mere release from colonial rule is not enough if it does not also imply a more fundamental economic and political justice. 
Various theorists and political initiatives have subsequently taken up the notion of abolition democracy to recall the unfulfilled aspirations and demands associated with these movements. Fueled by the international Black Lives Matter protests, over the past decade abolitionism has established itself as a comprehensive approach to critical theory and as a current of radical political practice, particularly in North America but also internationally. This movement is underpinned by a similar double perspective that Du Bois already formulated: on the one hand, abolitionist theories scandalize the racist background of mass incarceration and police violence; on the other hand, these institutions should not simply be eliminated while leaving social background conditions intact, but replaced by other institutions of social, political, and cultural participation, such as infrastructures of care and venues for political self-government. The seemingly utopian goal remains the gradual abolition of carceral institutions altogether.

Abolition Democracies Seminar

Organized by Safae El Khannoussi el Bouidrin, Daniel Loick and Oscar Talbot


In this research colloquium, we will a.) read together and discuss contemporary literature in abolitionism, b.) present our own current research on abolitionist topics, c.) invite international guests to present their research, especially to facilitate an interdisciplinary and international dialogue. The reading list and schedule will be decided together by the members of the seminar.

To be put on the list and receive the zoom link for hybrid sessions, please email Daniel d.loick at All sessions are Tuesday, 17-19.00 h.

Program 2024

12.3., OMHP A 009, Reading: Abolitionist Traditions in the Netherlands

- Willem de Haan, "Abolitionism and the Politics of Bad Conscience"

- Anouk de Koning, "Handled with Care"

- Background: Episode of "De Blauwe Familie" on YouTube:

- Exhibition: Justice Beyond Revenge in Rotterdam:

26.3. OMHP A 009, Reading: Abolition in Rojava

- Abdullah Öcalan, "A Blueprint for a Democratic and Ecological Society"

- Abdullah Öcalan, "Democratic Confederalism"

- Background: Social Contract of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria:

This session serves to organize a potential exchange with universities in Rojava. Information on this page:

9.4. OMHP C 2.17 Reading: Abolition and Antifascism

- Cedric Robinson, "Fascism and the Response of Black Radical Theorists"

- Nikhil Pal Singh, "The Afterlife of Fascism"

- Alberto Toscano, "The Returns of Racial Fascism"

23.4. OMHP C 0.23 Lecture by Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths): The Shape of Fear: Racial Fascism and the Counterrevolutions of Property in W.E.B. Du Bois's Black Reconstruction (Alberto will join on Zoom)
Taking its cue from Amiri Baraka's claim that Black Reconstruction contains a theory of "racial fascism", this talk will try to reconstruct the key elements and arguments that comprise Du Bois's theory, with particular attention to how Du Bois accounted for the compromise between the plantocracy and northern capital after 1877 - and for Jim Crow as a functional 'regionalisation' of fascism in the USA - as well as for the psycho-political dynamics underlying the conscription of poor whites into racial fascism. The talk will also reflect on how Du Bois theorisation of racial fascism can be put into dialogue with later debates on the applicability of fascism to racial capitalism in the USA.

Alberto Toscano is Term Research Associate Professor at the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea (Verso, 2010; 2017, 2nd ed.), Cartographies of the Absolute (with Jeff Kinkle, Zero Books, 2015) and the co-editor of the 3-volume The SAGE Handbook of Marxism (with Sara Farris, Bev Skeggs and Svenja Bromberg, SAGE, 2022). His Terms of Order: Keywords for an Interregnum (Seagull) and Late Fascism: Race, Capitalism and the Politics of Crisis (Verso) were published last year. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory and is series editor of The Italian List and Seagull Essays for Seagull Books.

7.5. OMHP C 0.23 Reading: Resisting Racial Capitalism

- Ida Danewid, Resisting Racial Capitalism, Introduction + ch 1

21.5. OMHP C 0.23, Decolonize Palestine (Reading or external speaker, tbd)

5-7.6.: ASCA Workshop: Resistance, Refusal, Fugitivity (

18.6. OMHP A 008, Lecture by Ida Danewid (Sussex): Resisting Racial Capitalism: An Antipolitical Theory of Refusal (Ida will be on location)

What does freedom mean without, and despite, the state? Ida Danewid argues that state power is central to racial capitalism's violent regimes of extraction and accumulation. Tracing the global histories of four technologies of state violence: policing, bordering, wastelanding, and reproductive control, she excavates an antipolitical archive of anarchism that stretches from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the borderlands of Europe, the poisoned landscape of Ogoniland, and the queer lifeworlds of Delhi. Thinking with a rich set of scholars, organisers, and otherworldy dreamers, Danewid theorises these modes of refusal as a utopian worldmaking project which seeks not just better ways of being governed, but an end to governance in its entirety. In a time where the state remains hegemonic across the Left–Right political spectrum, Resisting Racial Capitalism calls on us to dream bolder and better in order to (un)build the world anew.


Ida Danewid is a social and political theorist based in the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex. Her research interests are in anticolonial and black radical thought, gender studies, and global political economy. Ida's work has previously appeared in European Journal of International Relations, International Political Sociology, Security Dialogue, and with the Black Mediterranean collective.

Program 2023-2024

5th October - Policing

  • Brogden - Emergence of the Police - The Colonial Dimension
  • Downes and Van Swaaningen - The Road to Dystopia? Changes in the Penal Climate of the Netherlands
  • Neocleous - Policing the System of Needs: Hegel, Political Economy and the Police of the Market
  • Mariame Kaba - Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (or can also be found in We Do This 'Til We Free Us)

8th November - Surplus Populations

  • Karl Marx, "The progressive production of a relative surplus population or industrial reserve army", in Capital vol 1, pp. 781-794
  • Ruth Wilson Gilmore, "Crisis and Surplus", "The Four Surpluses", in Golden Gulag, pp. 54-86
  • Joshua Clover, "Surplus Rebellions", in Riot. Strike. Riot, pp. 153-174
  • Ian Shaw, Marv Waterstone, „A Planet of Surplus Life: Building Worlds Beyond Capitalism“, in: Antipode Vol. 53, No. 6 (2021), S. 1787-1806
  • Neferti X M. Tediar, "A Global Enterprise: Waste", in Remaindered Life, pp. 23-48

6th December - Decolonial Perspectives on Abolition

  • Aimé Césaire, "Discourse on Colonialism," in Discourse on Colonialism ; A Poetics of Anticolonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000.
  • Achille Mbembe, "Disenclosure" in Out of the Dark Night: Essays on Decolonization (New York: Colombia University Press, 2021): 42-89.
  • Samer Abdelnour, “What Decolonizing Is Not,” Management 4 (2022): 81–82.
  • Amade M'charek, "Harraga: Burning Borders, Navigating Colonialism," The Social Review 68 (2020): 418-434.
  • Vanessa Thompson, "From the Black Mediterranean to Liberation," Geographica Helvetica 78 (2023): 99-104.

January (TBC)  - Event with Special Guest

All sessions will be hybrid. A meeting will take place in the PC Hoofthuis 2.14, 1700-2000. A zoom link will also be provided. If you are interested in receiving the texts and the zoom link, send an email do