John Bardes discussing his forthcoming book The Carceral City: Slavery and the Making of Mass Incarceration in New Orleans, 1803–1930 (UNC Press, 2024).

Second Thursday Lecture Series: The Carceral City by John K. Bardes

Thu, Mar 14, 2024
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Virtual Events

Join us for a virtual evening with John K. Bardes as he discusses his forthcoming book The Carceral City: Slavery and the Making of Mass Incarceration in New Orleans, 1803–1930  (The University of North Carolina Press, 2024). This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Cabildo as part of the Second Thursday Lecture Series. It is free and open to the public, but registration is required. The program will take place on Zoom. Please register here and a link will be emailed to you on the day of the lecture:

About the Book
Americans often assume that slave societies had little use for prisons and police because slaveholders only ever inflicted violence directly or through overseers. Mustering tens of thousands of previously overlooked arrest and prison records, John K. Bardes demonstrates the opposite: in parts of the South, enslaved and free people were jailed at astronomical rates. Slaveholders were deeply reliant on coercive state action. Authorities built massive slave prisons and devised specialized slave penal systems to maintain control and maximize profit. Indeed, in New Orleans—for most of the past half-century, the city with the highest incarceration rate in the United States—enslaved people were jailed at higher rates during the antebellum era than are Black residents today. Moreover, some slave prisons remained in use well after Emancipation: in these forgotten institutions lie the hidden origins of state violence under Jim Crow. With powerful and evocative prose, Bardes boldly reinterprets relations between slavery and prison development in American history. Racialized policing and mass incarceration are among the gravest moral crises of our age, but they are not new: slavery, the prison, and race are deeply interwoven into the history of American governance.

About the Author
John Bardes is an assistant professor of history at Louisiana State University, where his teaching and research focus on slavery and the nineteenth-century South.  He is the author of The Carceral City: Slavery and the Making of Mass Incarceration in New Orleans, 1803–1930 (University of North Carolina Press, 2024).  His writing has also appeared in The Journal of African American History, The Journal of Southern History, Southern Cultures, and American Quarterly

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