Susan Dewey, Bonnie Zare, Jess White, Julia Dohan, Cassandra Hunter, Rhett Epler, Kristine Sloan, Lorna Barton, Carly Fraysier, Kyria Brown, Alison Berreman, Katy Brock, Heather Baker, Liz Kulze, Amber Donais, and Britney Welch
University of Wyoming
Feminists routinely ask provocative and important questions about the often-unspoken hierarchies and power structures that inform authorship, ownership of texts/projects, and divisions of labor— both academic and otherwise— in an unjust world. The unique dynamics of this special issue bring these questions to the fore in particularly significant ways due to the sheer amount of energy, goodwill, and commitment that this project required from so many people, all of whom contributed to its conceptualization and production. We regret that the limits of the academic publishing process do not allow us to acknowledge everyone who assisted in bringing this special issue to fruition, but will try our best to recognize their efforts here.
Wagadu Editor-in-Chief Mecke Nagel and Managing Editor Tiantian Zheng supported this project from the very beginning through their willingness to believe that Wyoming Pathways from Prison (WPfP) could produce high-quality work worthy of publication in an international journal. Their willingness to provide editorial guidance and moral support made the work featured here possible and is exemplary of feminist praxis’ transformative potential to transcend academic disciplines and restrictive ways of thinking about knowledge production.
WPfP is extraordinarily fortunate to work in the lowest population density U.S. state, where our “small town with long roads” mentality makes it impossible for individuals who disagree to retreat into ideological, professional, or disciplinary silos; instead, we find a way to work together. The Wyoming Department of Corrections (DOC), particularly Correctional Education Programs Manager Betty Abbott, has consistently supported the idea of partnering with the University of Wyoming (UW). Warden Virginia Pullen and her staff, most significantly Michael Quillen, were incredibly generous in allowing UW faculty and students to spend six hours a day with 14 women incarcerated at the Wyoming Women’s Center (WWC). We hope that our DOC colleagues will be as proud of the results featured here as we are.
The fourteen women whose work forms the substance of this special issue demonstrated bravery and a strong work ethic throughout the three weeks we spent together. All were incarcerated at the WWC and received college credit, at no cost, for taking this course. While all chose to publish their work in this special issue, some opted to use pseudonyms; hence WPfP is proud to have helped shape writing by Chris, Jessica Jade, Teresa Hart, Sarah M. Lujan, LaTasha Lynn LeBeau, Sara Bueller, Darla D. Rouse, Clover Brown, Sissy Pierce, Amanda Bayne, B.D.K., D. Jackson, DeeDee, and Kendra Leigh Horn.
UW faculty Susan Dewey and Bonnie Zare led this initiative at the prison assisted by fourteen others who were directly involved in shaping the work featured here in a variety of capacities. Nine UW students— Julia Dohan, Katy Brock, Kyria Brown, Cassandra Hunter, Rhett Epler, Amber Donais, Heather Baker, Alison Berreman, and Britney Welch— registered for a three credit course exclusively focused on working with incarcerated women to produce this special issue, and these students spent up to sixty hours at the prison helping the women to edit their work. Jess White, Kristine Sloan, Lorna Barton, Carly Frasier, and Liz Kulze volunteered their time editing the women’s work both within and outside the prison. Jess White demonstrated extraordinary vision as an editor by taking a leadership role in coordinating these efforts.
This issue of Wagadu is special because it belongs to all of us.