Institute for Advanced Study and Cultural Colloquium of Collaboration, the IAS Research and Creative Collaborative, Present

Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization, Disability Justice, and Prison Abolition

Part of IAS Thursdays
Past event
Oct 21, 2021
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Liat Ben-Moshe—Associate Professor of Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago
Susanna Blumenthal—William L. Prosser Professor of Law and Professor of History, University of Minnesota
Nathan Stenberg—PhD Candidate, Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, University of Minnesota
Moderated by Angela Carter—Access and Inclusion Pedagogy Specialist, Minnesota Transform

In this roundtable event, leading disability justice and abolitionist scholar Dr. Liat Ben-Moshe will discuss her new book, Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition (2020), and the importance of centering disability justice in coalition-building and imagining a world beyond policing, criminalization, and incarceration. What are the disability justice frameworks for abolition? How do these frameworks help us to critically assess existing institutions and practices and effect transformative change? Dr. Ben-Moshe draws crucial connections between the histories of deinstitutionalization and decarceration, all the while conveying the importance of attending to the ways race, gender, sexuality, and disability figure in the operations of the carceral state. University of Minnesota colleagues Susanna Blumenthal and Nathan Stenberg join the conversation, moderated by Angela Carter, to discuss how we might engage with Dr. Ben-Moshe’s coalitional and abolitionist frameworks to promote institutional change here at the University and in the broader community.

Presented by the Institute for Advanced Study, Minnesota Transform: A Just University for Just FuturesCritical Disability Studies Collective, and University of Minnesota Law School.


Liat Ben-Moshe is an Associate Professor of Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition (University of Minnesota Press 2020) and co-editor (with Allison Carey and Chris Chapman) of Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada (Palgrave 2014). She is an activist-scholar working at the intersection of incarceration, abolition and disability/madness. For more:

Nathan R. Stenberg is a first-generation disabled artist, personal trainer, and scholar from a low-income, single-parent family in rural Minnesota. Nathan researches a former state institution for the disabled–the Pennhurst State School & Hospital–turned for-profit haunted house attraction. His dissertation examines how Pennhurst serves as a site to interrogate legal, medical, and societal perceptions of disability through performance.  Nathan received his BA in music from Roberts Wesleyan College in 2014, and his MDiv from Princeton Seminary in 2017. He is currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance and a Leadership in Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Fellow at the University of Minnesota.

Susanna Blumenthal is a legal historian whose scholarship is broadly concerned with the problematics of personhood, focusing more particularly on conceptions of ability and disability and questions of identity, agency, and responsibility. She holds the William L. Prosser Professorship in Law and is also Professor of History and Co-Director of the Program in Law and History at the University of Minnesota. The author of the award-winning Law and the Modern Mind: Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture (Harvard University Press, 2016), her work has also appeared in Harvard Law Review, Law and History Review, and Law and Social Inquiry, among other journals.

Angela M. Carter (she/her) is the Access and Inclusion Pedagogy Specialist for Minnesota Transform. As a Ronald E. McNair scholar, she became a first-generation college graduate in 2009 when she earned her BA in English from Truman State University. In 2019, Dr. Carter completed her Ph.D. in Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota. She comes to MNT with over 15 years of experience teaching, researching, and advocating around experiences of injustice / inequity in higher education. Most recently, Angela co-founded the Critical Disability Studies Collective, an organization that advances intersectional and critical inquiries around disability, ableism, and access at the University of Minnesota. Outside her professional endeavors, Angela loves cuddling with her dog Cricket, watching HGTV, and playing Beyoncé songs on her bass guitar.

Part of IAS Thursdays