Abolition Democracy 13/13

To explore contemporary movements for abolition in order to bring about an abolitionist future: That is the ambition of this year’s new 13/13 seminar. Welcome to Abolition Democracy 13/13!


Abolition Democracy 13/13 is the 6th 13/13 seminar series held over the course of the academic year at the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought. These seminars focus, each year, on a different set of topics at the heart of contemporary critical thought and action in philosophy, politics, law, and social inquiry. During the 2015-2016 academic year, the seminar focused on Michel Foucault’s 13 Collège de France lecture series and produced the Foucault 13/13 series. During the 2016-2017 academic year, the seminar focused on 13 critical readings of Friedrich Nietzsche and produced the Nietzsche 13/13 series. During the 2017-2018 academic year, the seminar focused on 13 modalities of uprisings and produced the Uprising 13/13 series. During the 2018-2019 academic year, the seminar focused on the relationship between critical theory and praxis, and produced the Praxis 13/13 series. During the 2019-2020 academic year, the seminar returned to the fundamental texts of critical theory, and produced the Critique 13/13 series.

The upcoming seminar for 2020-2021 will focus on abolition today and will work through the different dimensions of contemporary arguments for abolition (regarding the prison, the police, and the death penalty, but also the abolition of property, of capital, of coverture and marital dominion, of oil, and of borders) through the lens of W.E.B. Du Bois’s idea of “abolition democracy.” It will consider the history of the abolition of slavery and the lessons to be learned. It will explore the many arguments for different forms of abolition. Together, we will read and discuss the following texts, among others:

  • Davis, Angela. Abolition Democracy. 2005.
  • Davis, Angela. Are Prisons Obsolete? 2011.
  • Du Bois, W.E.B. Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880. 1935.
  • Foner, Eric. The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution. 2019.
  • Foucault, Michel. The Punitive Society. 2015.
  • Marx, Karl and Frederick Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party. 1848
  • Proudhon, Pierre Joseph. What Is Property? 1840
  • Roberts, Dorothy. Killing the Black Body. 1997.
  • Vitale, Alex. The End of Policing. 2017.

Welcome to Abolition Democracy 13/13!