Anti transcarceral grief pedagogy for pandemic times
Keywords:abolition, carcerality, grief, pedagogy, transcarceral
COVID-19 has saturated many spaces in loss and grief. Higher education has been saturated too, despite ongoing institutional demands that educators mitigate and manage the grief away. Such demands expose the colonial and carceral logics that operate in much of so-called higher education, logics that may often create what we call ‘transcarceral grief’. Inspired by abolitionist activist scholarship, we understand transcarceral grief as an involuntary response to the surveillance, compliance, discipline, and punishment practices (or carceral logics) that have made education a site of restriction and confinement. Such a lens demonstrates how dangerous many of the ‘must-do’s’ of grief and pedagogy can be and changes how we understand our own pandemic pedagogy. Thus, in this piece, we draw on scholarship, activism, theory, and narrated experiences to identify and work against transcarcerality while teaching/learning with grief in our Canadian and American institutions. Rather than mitigating, managing or recovering from grief, we offer a grief-facing praxis that has the potential to disrupt and re-form how we metabolize grief in higher education. Further, we posit that our anti-transcarceral grief pedagogy has the potential to move us closer to the life-affirming space that we crave more than ever both in and out of the classroom.