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Life of PaperLetters and a Poetics of Living Beyond Captivity$
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Sharon Luk

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520296237

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520296237.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Ephemeral Value and Disused Commodities

Ephemeral Value and Disused Commodities

(p.169) Five Ephemeral Value and Disused Commodities
Life of Paper

Sharon Luk

University of California Press

Chapter Five clarifies theoretically the overlaps and distinctions between problematizing contemporary mass incarceration in terms of capitalist production, on the one hand, and in terms of social reproduction, on the other. Greater precision in this regard opens out the question rather than assumption of “racial” significance and signification today, specifically with reference to the “prison industrial complex” as a process of genocide—systematic extermination through arrested life and social incapacitation. Chapter Five concludes by examining the manipulation of prison mail in acts of retaliation and torture: wherein punishment does not operate primarily to discipline a labor force but to deaden those who refuse to be neutralized. Considering the letter as sign of living potential in this context, this chapter ultimately views the violence it magnetizes not as the negation but as the most apparent “evidence” of the letter’s social force.

Keywords:   Racial capitalism, Social Reproduction, Prison-Industrial Complex, Anti-Black Racism, “Black-White Binary,” Torture

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