3 headshots. 1) Zoe Samudzi. Zoe looks direct to camera wearing glasses. 2) Dr. SA Smythe. They are smiling and looking downwards, a fan in their right hand and wearing a blue suit and blue lipstick. 3) Jun Pang is smiling, wearing glasses with long hair.

In Defence of Translation

04 Nov 2021

Lola Olufemi and Imani Robinson invite guests to explore the concept of abolition.

Black feminist writer and researcher Lola Olufemi and interdisciplinary writer, artist and facilitator Imani Robinson hosted an online screening, as part of  Abolition: In Defence of Translation, a series of presentations, organising workshops, conversations and performances reflecting on the many dimensions of abolition.

These filmed contributions from abolitionists Zoe Samudzi, Jun Pang, and SA Smythe spoke to the concept’s utility within their respective contexts, and were followed by a panel discussion. 

Programme Notes

In defence of translation. When a word or concept travels, its meaning and applicability begin to shapeshift. We have seen how abolitionist practices and processes morph depending on geographic location: how the concept has been adapted to the shape of carcerality across the world.  
We have also seen how abolitionist demands have been defanged, twisted and misread. Against the desire to own and impose static meaning, we work in defence of translation. In defence of the idea that concepts are not geographically bound, that they can and should float, bend and be utilised by organisers, art practitioners across the world.  
Abolition is a wandering concept: it is solid enough to survive transit. It does not flow in one direction, namely from the west outward, rather it operates multi-directionally, creating new dimensions for exchange. We stand in defence of translation because we eschew the border.

About Dr. SA Smythe

Dr. SA Smythe (they / them) is a poet, translator, and assistant professor of Black European Cultural Studies, Contemporary Mediterranean Studies, and Black Trans Poetics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where they research relational aspects of Black belonging beyond borders.

They are the editor of Troubling the Grounds: Global Configurations of Blackness, Nativism, and Indigeneity special issue for Postmodern Culture, and the forthcoming book, Where Blackness Meets the Sea: On Crisis, Culture, and the Black Mediterranean.  Also forthcoming is a full volume of poetry titled proclivity, which takes up a familial history of Black migration, trans embodiment, and Black liberation. Smythe organizes with students and other comrades in the broader Cops Off Campus Coalition and other abolitionist/anti-carceral groups across Turtle Island and in Europe. Winner of the 2021-22 Rome Prize, Smythe is currently based between Rome and Tongva Land (Los Angeles).

About Jun Pang

Jun Pang is a writer, researcher, and organiser, focusing on migrants' rights, policing, and building solidarity across transnational contexts.

About Dr. Zoé Samudzi

Dr. Zoé Samudzi is a writer whose work has appeared in The New Inquiry, Verso, The New Republic, Daily Beast, Art in America, Hyperallergic, ROAR Magazine, Teen Vogue, Arts. Black, and other outlets. Her research analyzes German colonization, colonial biomedicine, and the genocide against Herero and Nama and San peoples in Namibia (1904-08) and its scientific afterlife. Along with William C. Anderson, she is the co-author of As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Our Liberation (AK Press). She is currently a research fellow with Political Research Associates.