Pedagogies of Abolition: A Phenomenological Exploration of Radical Study in Black Trans Communities

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Pedagogies of Abolition: A Phenomenological Exploration of Radical Study in Black Trans Communities

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Education is often positioned as a solution to incarceration while simultaneously using police (or commonly named School Resource Officers) to enforce discipline; or metal detectors and cameras for surveillance within school buildings as a measure of “safety” (Meiners, 2011). Sojoyner (2016) argues that both schools and prisons function as enclosures of Black life. Carceral progressivism positions education as a solution to societal oppression by “emancipating” students from enclosures, rather than actually abolishing the conditions that create said enclosures (Shange 2019). This is an example of how traditional education-based modes of study (Meyerhoff, 2019) enforce the carceral logics this work seeks to resist. This study is a phenomenological exploration of how pedagogies of abolition manifests in the everyday lives of Black trans folks. I define the phenomenon pedagogies of abolition as the process of teaching/learning an abolitionist praxis (Q. Alexander, 2022; Dyke et al., 2018; Love, 2019; Meiners, 2011; Rodriguez, 2019). Abolitionist praxis serves as a Black radical mode of study (Meyerhoff, 2019) working to transform our reliance on carceral state power and the logic that perpetuates it. This study specifically asks: how do pedagogies of abolition manifest in the everyday lives of Black trans folks? and how do those manifestations teach us how to study in abolitionist ways? Taking up a Black radical mode of study, this study uses a study group to create a fugitive network (Harney & Moten, 2013) of Black trans folks committed to abolition. The researcher studies with and alongside the group to articulate where and how these pedagogical moments manifest and work to shape our abolitionist world-making practices. This study explores three specific manifestations of pedagogies of abolition: relational ethic, embodied knowledge and holding change, both within the study group itself and in the lives of the participants. The three manifestations explored in this study illuminate the ways in which (modes of) study that center relationality, embodied ways of knowing and intentional building of collective spaces, create methods to enact an abolitionist praxis in our everyday lives. Grounded in the researcher’s experiences as a Black trans community educator, this research explores Black trans life as inherently pedagogical, teaching new ways of being and knowing that do not rely on carcerality, anti-Blackness, and gender based violence.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2022. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: J.B. Mayo. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 139 pages.

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Alexander, Qui. (2022). Pedagogies of Abolition: A Phenomenological Exploration of Radical Study in Black Trans Communities. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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