Special Issue of Nursing Philosophy

Thinking about “abolition democracy” and its consequences for radical nursing

The COVID19 pandemic has exposed global social and racial inequalities that stem from the racist foundations of post-colonial, capitalist societies and decades of systematic defunding of social, health and welfare services that follow a neoliberal rationale. It has also made clear the link between infectious diseases and climate change as well as the consequences of the ruthless exploitation of resources and the destructive effects of the continuous systematic dismantling of public goods and austerity measures that have particularly devastating consequences for BIPOC, LGBTQ*communities, incarcerated populations and people with disabilities. Combined with the impact of a police apparatus that has been systematically militarized, the COVID-19 crisis has made visible and in fact exaggerated the already existing inequalities in our neoliberal societies. These are inequalities that occur both within and across borders, creating an ever widening gap between the global North and global South which have been left to fend for themselves with millions of migrants fleeing unlivable conditions, and kept in camps exposed to diseases and systematic abuse. How are we to imagine the role of the nurse in these dire conditions?

This themed issue seeks to explore theories and philosophies that might move us towards what Angela Davis has called “Abolition Democracy”. We are seeking submissions that actively engage with a broad range of critical theories and philosophies from beyond the health sciences that can help to more fully articulate what it means to abolish systems of oppression including even health care. We are interested in exploring how new ideas (or combinations of them) can help to develop a theoretical framework through which existing attempts at social justice can be critiqued and new approaches imagined.

Papers should seek to address some of the following questions:

  • How do critical theories helps us to understand the limitations within nursing and health systems that have actually created or contributed to the very inequalities we now need to address?
  • How can new philosophies of nursing be developed that take us beyond uncritical hero narratives and provide actionable frameworks for nurses seeking to decolonize or deconstruct their own practices in the 21st century?
  • How can theory and philosophy can be used to ask hard questions of nursing itself, and address the urgent and pressing needs of our time?

Completed papers must be submitted before the end of April for double blinded peer review with a view to publication in the October 2021 edition of Nursing Philosophy.

Authors should follow the guidelines for new manuscripts and submit via the NUP Manuscript Central online system:


Guest Editors:
Kylie M Smith, Thomas Foth, Omar (Ali) Mushtaq and Claire Valderama-Wallace

To share initial ideas or ask questions please email Dr Kylie Smith at kylie.m.smith@emory.edu