• Harold Meeks and Nigel Poor: Gym Profile 7-15-75, 2013; inkjet print with ink notations; 11 x 17 in.; courtesy of Nigel Poor, with thanks to Warden Ron Davis and Lieutenant Sam Robinson.

  • Nigel Poor. Photo: Earlonne Woods

Colloquium: The San Quentin Project: Narratives of Incarceration

Homecoming Weekend: Plan ahead
With the Cal Football game at 11:30 AM, expect increased traffic and limited parking.

We expect a capacity audience for this event. A livestream will be available on BAMPFA's YouTube channel.

Contextualizing The San Quentin Project: Nigel Poor and the Men of San Quentin State Prison, this colloquium brings together leading UC Berkeley faculty from the fields of law, social welfare, and literature, along with artist Nigel Poor, to discuss the power of personal narrative and how narratives of incarceration have taken shape across disciplines. Faculty presenters are Genaro Padilla, Tina Sacks, and Jonathan Steven Simon; Jody Lewen of the Prison University Project moderates.

Genaro Padilla is a professor of English and has also served as associate dean of letters and science and vice chancellor for student affairs at UC Berkeley. Among his publications are The Daring Flight of My Pen: A Counter Reading of Gaspar Perez de Villagra’s Historia de la Nueva Mexico; My History, Not Yours: The Formation of Mexican American Autobiography; Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage; and Power, Race, and Gender in Academe: Strangers in the Tower. He is currently at work on The Poetics of Incarceration, a study that emerges from his courses on prison literature, immigrant detention centers, and the US–Mexico border.

Tina Sacks is an associate professor of social welfare who works in the areas of racial inequities in health, social determinants of health, and poverty and inequality. Her current research focuses on how macrostructural forces like structural discrimination and immigration affect women’s health. In 2017 Sacks co-taught, with Jonathan Steven Simon and Keith Feldman, a signature UC Berkeley “Big Ideas” undergraduate course titled The Prison.

Jonathan Steven Simon is a professor of criminal justice law and faculty director of the Center for the Study of Law & Society. His scholarship concerns the role of crime and criminal justice in governing contemporary societies. He is the author of the award-winning monographs Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass and Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear. His recent books include Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America.

Nigel Poor is a social practice artist who began volunteering at San Quentin State Prison in 2011 as a professor for the Prison University Project, an experience that transformed her art practice. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. She is a professor of photography at California State University, Sacramento. Poor is the cocreator, cohost, and coproducer of the award-winning prison-based podcast Ear Hustle.

Jody Lewen is founder and executive director of the Prison University Project at San Quentin Prison, where she manages the only fully on-site program in the state prison system to confer college degrees. She is the recipient of a Frederick Douglass 200 Award and a James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.