From the 1811 German Coast Slave Rebellion to the 1971 Attica Prison Uprising, from the truancy of enslaved women to the extreme self-discipline exercised by prisoners in solitary confinement, Black Americans have, through time, resisted racial regimes in extraordinary and everyday ways. Though these acts of large and small-scale resistance to slavery and incarceration are radical and transformative, they have often gone unnoticed. This book is about Black rebellion in captivity and the ways that many of the conventional well-worn constructs of academic political theory render its political dimensions obscure and indiscernible. While Hannah Arendt is an unlikely theorist to figure prominently in any discussion of Black politics, her concepts of world and worldlessness offer an indispensable framework for articulating a theory of resistance to chattel and carceral captivity.
Politics in Captivity begins by taking seriously the ways in which slavery and incarceration share important commonalities, including historical continuity. In Zuckerwise’s account of this commonality, the point of connection between enslaved and incarcerated people is not exploited labor, but rather resistance. The relations between the rebellions of both groups appear in the writings of Muhammed Ahmad, Angela Davis, George Jackson, Ruchell Magee, and Assata Shakur, a genre Zuckerwise calls Black carceral political thought. The insights of these thinkers and activists figure into Zuckerwise’s analyses of largescale uprisings and quotidian practices of resistance, which she conceives as acts of world-building, against conditions of forced worldlessness. In a moment when a collective racial reckoning is underway; when Critical Race Theory is a target of the Right; when prison abolition has become more prominent in mainstream political discourse, it is now more important than ever to look to historical and contemporary practices of resistance to white domination.