Star Trek Beyond Prisons

Politics of Star Trek

“We’re 75 years away from the nearest court.  You’re really going to hold her in the brig for that long?”  – Commander Chakotay, Star Trek: Voyager

I am geeked to announce that I will be speaking at this year’s DePaul  University Pop Culture Conference “A Celebration of Star Trek.”  As a life-long trekkie and social justice activist, I’m thrilled to talk about both of these passions at the same time.

In my talk, I will use Star Trek to open up a discussion of prison abolition and ask how science fiction might allow us to imagine a truly liberated universe.In Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future, humanity has banished hunger, abolished money, and ended discrimination.  So why does the Federation still utilize prisons?  How might Star Trek provide us with the opportunity to imagine alternatives to imprisonment, even if the series itself treats incarceration as inevitable?    I will contrast the frequent use of prisons in Deep Space Nine with the sometimes more progressive images in Voyager.  What transformative possibilities are opened up when a star fleet crew finds itself 75,000 light years from home and prisons are unfeasible?  To analyze these images, I draw on the work of prison abolitionist scholars, transformative justice practitioners, and “visionary fiction” writers and thinkers, including Angela Davis, Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown.

I’ll be speaking at 9 am.  Replicate yourself a cup of coffee (I’ll be sipping tea, Earl Gray, hot) and join us.



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