Gender's Role in Abolitionist Pedagogy: A Fictionalized Autoethnography

Shelby A Shaw, University of Rhode Island


The purpose of this dissertation research was to explore the role of gender in prison-based abolitionist pedagogy. In order to achieve this objective, the following research questions framed this study: (1) How did institutional gatekeepers influence my experience with gender’s role in prison-based abolitionist pedagogy? (2) In my experiences within the cultures of different prison facilities and programs, what role did gender play in prison-based abolitionist pedagogy? (3) What role did gender play in my overall experience with prison-based abolitionist pedagogy? Using autoethnographic methods, my firsthand experience as a prison educator and researcher comprised the primary data for this study. The themes that emerged from data analysis included the following: (1) Duality of Intersecting Privileges and Oppressions, (2) Dualistic Paternalism, (3) Dualistic Sexualization, (4) Sexual Abuse of Power, (5) Necessity of Doing Gender, (6) Iatrogenic Gender Violence/Creating a Gender Regime, (7) Dualistic Pedagogical Cultures, and (8) Gendered Resistance/Gendered Hope. The findings from this study appear to support the argument for a change in the gendered structures and cultures of the prison regime. Based on its findings, this study recommends that future research into prison-based abolitionist pedagogy focus on the role of race in prison-based abolitionist pedagogy, how the gender of the prisoner-student mediates the experience of abolitionist pedagogy, uncovering further first-person accounts of those involved in abolitionist pedagogy, and successful examples of abolitionist pedagogy for the purposes of replication. This study also recommends that future practice focuses on drastically reducing the number of people in prison, altering the mission and culture of prisons, training of prison personnel, hiring of prison personnel, implementing outside bodies of accountability, and reshaping prison education to increase standards and become abolition-driven.

Subject Area

Education|Criminology|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Shelby A Shaw, "Gender's Role in Abolitionist Pedagogy: A Fictionalized Autoethnography" (2017). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI10258410.