Workshop | Critical Utopias? Fictioning a world without Prisons

April 1, 2022 2:48 pm
NASAs designs for a space colony, 1970’s, artist unknown.

‘Abolition requires that we change one thing, everything’ – Ruth Wilson Gilmore.

Why is it so hard to imagine a world without prisons or other forms of punishment? What if we didn’t automatically phone 999 when faced with harm, conflict, or a stranger in distress? As Ruth Wilson Gilmore suggests, visualising and working for the abolition of prisons and/or punishment, requires us to imagine new ways of living together and of responding to conflict and harm. In creative writing terms, this is an act of ‘world building’ that hopes to have real-world consequences. 

Market is excited to host a creative writing workshop with curator Thomas Abercromby and writer and researcher Phil Crockett Thomas. In the workshop, we will discuss and write our own speculative fiction (primarily science fiction) to imagine a future abolitionist society based not on punishment but care, solidarity, and radical empathy. There is no need to be an experienced writer or expert on abolition to take part. Please read the short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin in advance. It’s available to read online here:

The workshop draws on Phil Crockett Thomas’s ongoing research project Prison Break: Imagining Alternatives to Prison in the UK, which uses creative writing workshops to support UK-based people involved in prison abolition and transformative justice to create speculative fiction that can help imagine and enact a more just future. The project is funded by an Independent Scholar Fellowship from the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF). For more info please visit

Click Here to find the tickets to the event.

About this project :

This event is part of School of Abolition; a year-long action research project developed and led by artist and curator Thomas Abercromby in collaboration with Glasgow Sculpture Studios that uses contemporary art and activism to challenge Scotland’s prison industrial complex and the ways in which we respond to harm and crime without resorting to further policing or imprisonment. The School works in close collaboration with communities in Glasgow North, providing a support structure that recontextualises the very idea of policing and prisons towards community-based models of safety, support and prevention.