Damien Sojoyner

This highly original story reflects on how the carceral state shapes daily life for young Black people--and how Black Americans resist, find joy, and cultivate new visions for the future. Joy and Pain: A Story of Black Life and Liberation in Five Albums (University of California Press, 2022) is about a young man, Marley, and a particular place, the Southern California Library--an archive of radical and progressive movements and a community organization where the author meets Marley. 

Taking music as its thematic undercurrent, the book is structured as a "record collection." Each of the five "albums" relates Marley's personal encounters with everyday aspects of the carceral state through an ethnographic A side and then offers deeper context through an anthropological and archival B side. In telling Marley's story, Damien M. Sojoyner depicts the overwhelming nature of Black precarity in the twenty-first century through the lenses of housing, education, health care, social services, and juvenile detention facilities. But Black life is not defined by precarity; it must embrace social visions of radical freedom that allow the cultivation of a life of joy beyond systems of oppression. In Joy and Pain, we see how Marley's experience intersects with history and the contemporary political moment--Black knowledge production, Black liberation movements, community-based organizing--to imagine expansive futures.

Listen in: https://newbooksnetwork.com/joy-and-pain

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