presentations

April 6, 2021
“Religion, Punishment, Restoration”
Pomona College


March 28, 2021
“Abolition is sacred work.”
Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara


March 12, 2021
“Anti-Racism and BLM”
Graduate Researchers of Geography and the Tallahassee Community Action Committee


February 23, 2021
“Abolition is sacred work.”
Ball State University


February 16, 2021
“Addressing Racism in/and the Academic Study of Religion”
Columbia University and Barnard College


February 5, 2021
“Making Abolition: The Ground on Which We Stand”
Social Change Symposium

As the Symposium’s penultimate speaker, Dr. Laura McTighe introduces abolition as both a vision and a practice: it is a vision of presence, of a world without prisons; it is also the practice of how we make that world together. Using academic and activist theories of change, participants will demystify concepts of abolition, and identify entry points for working across many interwoven institutions.


August 12, 2020
“Abolitionist Theologies: Religious Resistance to Policing and Prisons”
Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois

As the movement for abolition continues to grow, with calls to defund police departments, demands for mass release of prisoners, campaigns for reparations, and more; where do faith communities fit in? Religious leaders from across traditions have always been involved in abolitionist organizing. At the same time, religious institutions, especially white Protestantism, hold much responsibility for the creation of the American punishment system as it is today. Join us for a conversation with religious organizers and scholars about the need to create and uplift abolitionist theologies and mobilize people of faith towards the dreams of abolition.


May 8, 2020
Past as Prologue: Storytelling about Resistance to the Brutality of Incarceration
Survived and Punished NY + Barnard Center for Research on Women

For centuries incarcerated people and others have painted a grim and gruesome picture of conditions inside prisons and jails. There have been countless reports, testimonies, exposes, and essays addressing the brutality and violence that incarcerated people are subjected to daily. Often these terrible conditions have led to uprisings and rebellions by prisoners. Attica is among the most well-known, however it is far from the only example. The reality is that incarcerated people have always and continue to resist daily and everywhere.

Too often accounts of this brutality are met by the general public with indifference or tacit support. This is to all of our shame. We need to be in solidarity with incarcerated people who deserve freedom and at least to be treated with care while locked up.

Join Survived and Punished NY and the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) for a discussion of the current horrific conditions that incarcerated people are enduring under the COVID-19 pandemic and how they are resisting this violence. In addition, the conversation will focus on historical examples of prisoner resistance to the violent conditions of confinement.

We’ll be joined by formerly incarcerated organizers and leading thinkers about criminalization, Monica Cosby and Kathy Boudin, along with historians Toussaint Losier and Laura McTighe. Other participants to be confirmed.

Organized and moderated by Mariame Kaba.


February 24, 2020
Religious Studies and Mass Incarceration: Tips for Sharing Scholarship with the Public
Public Scholars Project, a joint project of the American Academy of Religion and the Freedom Forum Institute

Host Benjamin Marcus and guests discuss how scholars of religion can share work on religion and mass incarceration with different publics. Co-presenters include Tanya Erzen, associate research professor of religion and gender queer studies at University of Puget Sound; Herron Keyon Gaston, associate director of admissions and recruitment at Yale Divinity School; Laura McTighe, assistant professor in the department of religion at Florida State University; and Christophe Ringer, assistant professor of theological and social ethics and society at Chicago Theological Seminary.


March 27, 2020––Postponed Due to COVID
Theory on the Ground
Yale University

For more than two decades, scholar-activist Laura McTighe has been enmeshed in our nation’s movements to end AIDS and prisons. In this workshop, McTighe will open a collaborative conversation around “theory on the ground” as developed in the midst of lived struggle. What are the resistant visions of lived struggle? How are they carried forward? What do they demand of us as scholars and global citizens?

Co-sponsored by the Yale University Chaplain’s Office, Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM), Department of Religious Studies, Program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS), and Yale Divinity School


November 21, 2019
“The Struggle Continues: religion, prisons, and abolition

University of California, Santa Barbara
Hosted by the MultiCultural Center as part of the Race & Religion speaker series

Abolition is an intimate practice of otherwise world-building. It brings us into different relationships with one another, with our histories of struggle, with our gods and ancestors, and with the emergent possibilities always already unfolding around us. Drawing on more than two decades of work in our nation’s movements to end AIDS and prisons, this talk explores the everyday, bone-deep work of building a world without prisons; it also practices it. By staying close to activist ‘theory on the ground,’ this talk uncovers the ways in which religious ideas and practices have been used to grow mass criminalization; it also lifts up the very different forms of religious praxis through which we can imagine and realize its ends.