Shai Gortler, The sumud within: Walid Daka’s abolitionist decolonization. Contemporary Polital Theory (2022).
The texts of Walid Daka, a Palestinian political prisoner incarcerated since 1986, challenge the notion that colonial power ends with decolonization and expose the shortcomings of examining colonial prisons solely through the eliminatory prism of death and deprivation. Studying Daka’s texts, the article presents how the Israeli carceral system has managed to utilize prisoners’ hopes and longings – in their relations with one another, their political actions such as hunger strikes or their building of internal leadership hierarchies, and their affective worlds – to further its own goals. Rather than a pessimistic account, this article critically analyzes Daka’s writings to demonstrate how a first-person study of carceral subjectification can unfold within an activist framework. Daka uses these observations to develop an alternative articulation of decolonization that I term ‘abolitionist decolonization’ as a collective and continued insistence on setting the terms of getting free. By ‘abolitionist decolonization,’ I conjure a difficult conversation between a Fanonian project of never-ending decolonization and a Foucauldian project of never-ending abolition. As such, this critical attitude aims to counter settler-colonial carcerality in ways that will foil the administration’s attempts to reproduce the dangers that the prisoners seek to elude, through the very means they deploy to elude them.