Author: Joe Lockard
Joe Lockard is an associate professor of English at Arizona State University, where he directs the Antislavery Literature Project. His latest book is Prison Pedagogies: Learning and Teaching with Imprisoned Writers (Syracuse University Press, 2018), co-edited with Sherry Rankins-Robertson.

Decades ago, in First Blood: Part II, the character John Rambo asked, “Do we get to win this time?” If the United States had won the war, Rambo would not have been invented to rescue fictional victory from real defeat. Because it lost, its filmmakers learned to profit from telling stories about successes that never happened. (More…)

When US Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited Paul, who wrote Philippians from prison, in support of imprisoning migrant children, the irony was hideous. Immediately after Sessions and White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders used the Bible to defend Trump Administration policy, the Internet was flooded with religious progressives — and some conservative clergy as well — providing counter-interpretations. (More…)

When we started the midnight milking in the kibbutz dairy barns, there were two tasks.  One worker drove cows into the washing pen to begin the process. The other worker made coffee.  Hot coffee was the right of dairy workers beginning their shift.  (More…)

I have two preferred cafés. The first, near our home in Phoenix, is independently owned, with a wide porch looking out over an artificial lake. The owners are a Greek family and they make sure that there is baklava available.  (More…)

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville famously wrote of the “fast-fish and loose-fish” doctrine. A dead whale connected to an occupied boat or marked with a distinctive symbol – “waifed” – was a recognized possession, a fast-fish. Any other whale found floating was a loose-fish. His narrator Ishmael uses these two principles of the whaling community as the basis for an inquiry into the relationship between freedom and power. (More…)

At our six-year-old daughter’s dance finale, an American Jewish physician sat down next to me. “It’s a great day, isn’t it, with the embassy in Jerusalem?” His wife, a lovely woman from Beersheva, tried to intervene: “I don’t think Joe is the one to say that to.”I decided to respond anyway. “I always asked ‘what will be the price in lives?’ Now we know the answer. (More…)

What happens when love and Marxism are at odds? That seems a very 20th Century question, one that used to be asked often. A comrade sacrificing love for the greater cause of revolution is a theme that does not inspire – or delude, take your choice – as it did once. (More…)

Discussions of the Mear One mural, Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction, and anti-Semitism within the UK Labour party bring to mind a long-ago discussion.  The reason lies with majoritarian difficulty or inability to see what is perfectly visible to a minority.  (More…)

Can colonialism collapse into post-colonialism through ironic self-exposure and self-parody?  It is misleading to think we can ridicule colonialism away, even if William Seabrook’s career as a white voyeur among darker peoples certainly makes an excellent case for that position.  (More…)

Kelly Lytle Hernández’s City of Inmates is both enlightening and troubling.  Aside from famous institutions such as Sing-Sing, prison and jail systems appear as ahistorical institutional structures.  They seem as though they materialized in response to a need to house criminals. Yet all prisons and jails have histories. They are often responses to the criminalization of human categories rather than criminal violence. (More…)

Mimi Pond’s second graphic memoir, The Customer is Always Wrong (Drawn & Quarterly), tells of her early twenties when she was a struggling waitress and beginning cartoonist in the Oakland of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Like her first memoir, Over Easy, it centres on Pond’s workplace, the Imperial Café (a pseudonym for the real-life Royal Café), which provided her with many of the stories she tells. (More…)

Dear Ahed,

I write to confess that I love you.  Although you are sitting in Ofer military prison and might not be too happy, I want to persuade you that I am your own true love.  Prison may give you time to think about where your affections can best be directed.  You will come to love me too. (More…)