On Thursday night I attended a Sidonie Smith lecture at the College of St. Rose. She called the presentation, "Victims, Perpetrators, Beneficiaries: Storytelling Stances in Human Rights Campaigns." Throughout the lecture she constantly complicated the proximity of (and roles of) victim, perpetrator, and beneficiary. She used three South African "narratives" as examples: the Winnie Mandela trials, A Human Being Died that Night, and Country of my Skull by Antjie Krog.
During the Q&A the conversation turned to prison narratives. John Edgar Wideman's introduction to Mumia Abu Jamal's Live from Death Row was discussed because it addresses the idea of prison narratives so often becoming neo-slave narratives. Wideman attributes both Abu Jamal's success, as well the the controversey and fear surrounding him, to the fact that his writing doesn't do this.