Tracey McIntosh: Indigenous Imaginaries: Redress and Response

The Māori experience of colonisation is paralleled by struggles of Indigenous peoples in other settler states which have also been systematically brutalised and marginalised by state policies and practices, and where they continue to be over-represented in prison populations. The art of decarceration is  a politic of emancipation founded on the necessity of knowing our  material condition; understanding our collective histories of dispossession and a profound knowledge of the devastation of structural violence including institutional and judicial racism. A basic right to know why we are where we are. Decareration and abolition does not seek to replace incarceration with alternatives that are closely related to imprisonment such as Māori or Indigenous prisons. Instead it entails a rejection of the moral legitimacy of confining people in cells. It is critical that the framework embeds Indigenous ways of knowing, positive forms of social integration and collective security that are not organized around criminal law enforcement, confinement, criminal surveillance, punitive policing, or punishment. For this to happen it must first be an act of imagination, informed by research, informed by the experiences of those who have harmed and those who have been harmed and a recognition that too often these are not discrete or separate groups.  It means addressing the legacies of racism and colonialism and the need for a radical honesty in discussing and responding to these devastating legacies.

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