© 2021 Sue Jeong Ka

The Banned Book List: a database prototype, Work-in-Progress

It is an endless dive into understanding carceral censorship that reflects bias and unreasonable justification to take away one's intellectual freedom.

The Banned Book List critically explores epistemic injustice in the racial carceral state. My research on banned books deals with the analogy between epistemic supremacy and prison censorship on publication and printed materials. To this end, my study will draw on banned book datasets that show how censorship policies’ colorblindness and other related discrimination persist in carceral systems.

Content-wise, this project focuses on a content-based ban that restricts the content of individual publications, often for sexual or violent content, and extends to books that deal with racism, injustice, civil rights, and LGBTQ+ experiences of incarceration. Since early 2019, I have collected, digitized, and conducted quantitative and qualitative research to dissect American prisons’ banned books lists from 26 states. The resulting data shows prison censorship systematically targets BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), LGBTQ+, poor, and disabled people in carceral systems, which reflect existing social hierarchies that perpetuate the marginalization of these people.

On a practical level, the database aims to function as a platform for consolidating censorship data and making it accessible to incarcerated people, libraries, book-to-prison organizations, and the public. This project also proposes a system to aggregate, structure, and visualize data regarding censorship in prisons to empower BIPOC, LGBTQ+, poor, and disabled people to challenge prison administration overreach and civil rights violations.

The embeded prototype below is optimized for desktop screens only. To experience the undistorted version of The Banned Book List in full screen, please visit www.thebannedbooklist.org