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During the 1970s, grassroots women activists in and outside of prisons forged a radical politics against gender violence and incarceration. Emily L. Thuma traces the making of this anticarceral feminism at the intersections of struggles for racial and economic justice, prisoners’ and psychiatric patients’ rights, and gender and sexual liberation.
All Our Trials explores the organizing, ideas, and influence of those who placed criminalized and marginalized women at the heart of their antiviolence mobilizations. This activism confronted a "tough on crime" political agenda and clashed with the mainstream women’s movement’s strategy of resorting to the criminal legal system as a solution to sexual and domestic violence. Drawing on extensive archival research and first-person narratives, Thuma weaves together the stories of mass defense campaigns, prisoner uprisings, broad-based local coalitions, national gatherings, and radical print cultures that cut through prison walls. In the process, she illuminates a crucial chapter in an unfinished struggle––one that continues in today’s movements against mass incarceration and in support of transformative justice.
About the Author
Emily L. Thuma is an assistant professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Tacoma.
"All Our Trials offers a vital history for contemporary prison abolitionists seeking to make the world anew. " --Against the Current
"Thuma’s book is a refreshing antidote to critiques of the feminist anti-violence movement that have ignored the activism of women of color. Highly readable and deeply archival, with many fascinating images of activists, fliers, posters, and newsletters, Thuma’s book reveals a previously neglected history of important ideological and social movement roots of the current feminist abolition movement. " --Journal of American History
All Our Trials offers us a robust history of late twentieth-century radical feminist antiviolence organizing. Thuma reminds us that the activism of the present is built upon an important legacy of work that traversed movements and prison walls. If we are to build an abolitionist feminist future, we would be wise to pay attention to the antiracist queer feminist politics of these activists. We owe a debt of gratitude to them for paving the way, and to Thuma for chronicling their struggles."--Angela Y. Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Thuma's historical approach to women, prisons, and policing is insightful and thorough. Though never directed to, the reader will certainly feel compelled to more directly contemplate or approach the present issue, but at the very least, All Our Trials is an incredibly effective antidote to the most crippling condition that stands in the way of dismantling the carceral state: apathy." --Women's Studies
"With deep compassion, Thuma offers one of the most compelling historical analyses of how feminist activism of Black, queer, and criminalized women has worked to resist the long and dangerous reach of the carceral state. All Our Trials is an important text in the growing fields of critical prison studies and anti-carceral feminism and a critical addition to activist reading lists."--Beth Richie, author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation "In the contemporary context of social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, which criticize the ever growing prison-industrial complex and draw attention to illegitimate violence perpetrated by agents of the state, All Our Trials provides a genealogy of the ideas behind alternatives to criminal justice; the roots of restorative and transformative justice theories can be found in the struggles of the 1970s and 1980s." --Punishment and Society