If listening is a technique or practice of the law, which is to say also of politics/police, what would an abolitionary listening sound like? The state listens and demands a listening disposition, listening is critical to all processes of arrest, adjudication and incarceration. The voice of the witness becomes evidence. Indeed, the ‘act of listening’ to the witness becomes evidentiary. But these listenings assume and constrain possibilities for freedom. In this piece, we move through propositions that invite an opening up to how, if at all, an abolitionary listening might take place. The “we” we use is intended to be multi-directional and polyphonic. It is a “we” we use as authors, as readers, and as listeners. Our thinking with and listening to the “uncapturable” seeks to unrepresent monological and univocal narratives of intelligibility, rationality, and social consensus. Rather than strain a hearing, we worry and listen to the very register and sonics of (a) hearing (determinacy, judgement, autonomy).
Drawing from the writings and sonic articulations, undulations and intervallic cries of different thinkers and musicians we undo the certainty of voice and sound that the law predicates itself upon, and surrender to unanticipated openness.
Cole Arthur C, Kalule P and Kanngieser A 2021 Abolitionary listening: propositions and questions. Critical Legal Thinking: Law and the Political. 22 September [Online]