Angela Davis is an American political philosopher and activist. She is Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz. She is one of the founders of Critical Resistance, an international movement dedicated to dismantling the prison industrial complex. Her 1974 autobiography was republished in 2022.
Books by Angela Davis
“Davis presents abolition in the form that I find most compelling and makes me feel that I really do need to respond to the challenges this movement has presented. And that’s because she is situated within both the feminist tradition and the black radical tradition, and while her political philosophy is informed by Marxism and the Frankfurt School of critical theory, and even Foucault, she’s also drawing on a broader black intellectual tradition closely linked with radical feminist theorizing and practice. I find that synthesis of ideas powerful. I think of myself as in the black radical tradition and have been greatly influenced by Angela Davis’s work. I agree with her about many things, and so, naturally, I felt compelled to engage with her on this question…She herself, like some others we’ve talked about, has spent time in prison, as a political prisoner. She has been engaged in anti-prison activism for more than 50 years. I think of her as the leading abolitionist thinker in the black radical tradition today. I also feel that her work is too often ignored by philosophers, or not taken seriously enough.” Read more...
The best books on Prison Abolition
Tommie Shelby, Philosopher
“Angela Davis is a political activist. She was born in Birmingham, Alabama and experienced racial injustice from a very young age. She has developed a life and career, both as an activist and a scholar, writing about racial and class injustice. She is also, famously, a commentator on prison abolition and the injustices of the criminal justice system, so particularly appropriate for this moment. She has a really wide range of interests and we could have chosen any one of her works, but one of the reasons why we chose this book specifically is because, as you see from the title, Women, Race and Class, it’s a really comprehensive analysis of those three core philosophical concepts. The book is primarily a historical analysis of the injustices faced by black women, starting with slavery and moving through history to more contemporary issues—for example around women’s reproductive rights. It’s a really important book because it looks closely at how these three ideas of gender, race and class overlap and how one-dimensional analyses of these concepts tends to cover up the injustices faced by black women. Black women tend to be at the centre of a lot of these injustices and it’s really important, particularly now, to look at how these concepts overlap and, through how they’re conceived, tend to reinforce and perpetuate those inequalities. That’s one of the reasons why we thought this was a particularly important book.” Read more...
The Best Philosophy Books by Women
Interviews where books by Angela Davis were recommended
The Best Philosophy Books by Women, recommended by Lisa Whiting & Rebecca Buxton
When it comes to the big names in philosophy, very few people think of women and the books that make the canon have, traditionally, almost always been written by European or American men. Here, Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting, editors of The Philosopher Queens, a book that collects together articles about the most important women philosophers, talk through their selection of the best philosophy books written by women.
The best books on Prison Abolition, recommended by Tommie Shelby
With almost two million people in prison in the US on any given day, it’s clear that something is going badly wrong. The question is what to do about it. Harvard philosopher Tommie Shelby talks us through five books by thinkers of the past 150 years who have argued that abolishing prisons is the only solution.