Carceral Geography, Care and Control: Conferences 2016

2016 has already been, and looks set to continue as a great year for carceral geography on the conference circuit. Keep reading for a summary of presentations at the AAG conference in San Francisco; and news about Troubling Institutions sessions at the upcoming RGS-IBG in London.


Dominique Moran and Jennifer Turner co-organised three sessions on Carceral Geography at the AAG conference in San Francisco. The first session focused on conceptualisations of the carceral, the second on carceral spaces, and the last on carceral mobilities.

Dominique presented first about conceptualisations of the ‘carceral’, then Joaquin Villanueva spoke about the relationship between carceral and legal geographies in a social housing estate in the Parisian banlieueChristophe Mincke interrogated the relationship between deprivation of liberty and immobilisation, and Jewell Bohlinger addressed the sustainability of incarceration.

In the carceral spaces session, tactics of privacy in carceral space were explored by Anaïs TschanzMarina Richter presented on the end of life in prison; Ellie Slee spoke about prison architecture and communities local to prisons; and Marie Hutton gave her presentation electronically on prison visitation and human rights. In each case, presenters questioned what the prison is – how it is understood and experienced, from a variety of perspectives which, in multiple and interesting ways, emphasised the fluidity of the carceral.

In the carceral mobilities session we heard about the mobility of prison reform policy in Colombia from Julie de Dardel; about prison and probation as multiple levels of institutional life from Luca Follis; from Tom Disney about situated fathering in prison visiting rooms, and finally from Jen Turner about colour in custodial settings. In these papers, ideas about how the notion of the prison ‘travels’, both literally and metaphorically, shape the ideas presented.

In diverse ways, the papers chosen for these sessions explored the nature of the carceral, from multiple and cross-disciplinary perspectives. Those papers which focused on ‘the prison’, asked, in various ways, what it is, what it consists of, and how we are to understand it. Those which looked at carcerality outside of the prison test the plausibility, and indeed the utility, of the carceral metaphor. Speaking from a range of situated studies, including from the US, Canada, France, UK, Switzerland and Colombia, where what the prison ‘is’ varies markedly, they also implicitly addressed the issue of the geographical reach of the metaphor.

There was also a terrific set of papers in the session Critical Penal Geographies I: Histories, Political Economies, and Epistemologies of the Carceral State chaired by Judah Schept, including presentations by Judah with Brett Story, by Orisanmi Burton,  and by Anne Bonds and Jenna Loyd.

What’s next?

Tom Disney (University of Birmingham) and Anna Schliehe (University of Glasgow) are co-convening three sessions at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference entitled Examining troubling institutions and geographies at the nexus of care and control.

These sessions aim to consider the multiplicity of institutional spaces of care and control which can be found in various settings, ranging from psychiatric establishments, centres of migrant detention, prisons, orphanages, but also encompassing environments such as schools or youth camps. Building upon previous work into the geography of institutions and geography in institutions (Parr and Philo 2000: 514), these papers will explore the complicated and sometimes opaque relationship between care and control.

In particular these sessions are organised in response to recent calls in carceral geography (Moran and Turner, AAG 2016) and aim to illustrate the diversity of research in this area and beyond. This meeting intends to collect different perspectives on empirical and theoretical engagements with everyday life in institutional spaces, to examine the troubling relationship between care and control; where one is at risk of being transformed into the other (see Disney 2015, Schliehe 2014). These papers will contribute wide ranging perspectives from different fields to discuss this relationship, such as carceral geography, mental health geography, historical geography, children’s studies, theatre studies, criminology, anthropology and sociology.

Examining troubling institutions and geographies at the nexus of care and control (1): Care in Spaces of Control

Akhila L. Ananth The Green Prison: Ecological Preservation and Environmental Racism in the Design of Juvenile Detention Centers

Elisabeth Fransson The CLICK – Carceral spaces for young people

Laura Louise Nicklin Ariel or Caliban?  Care, Control and Shakespeare as a Successful Approach to Prison Based Criminal Rehabilitation

Franck Ollivon Electronic monitoring: the difficult balance of care and control in a penal technology

Marina Richter The dying body as a site of negotiation: care and control in end-of-life situations in Swiss prisons

Examining troubling institutions and geographies at the nexus of care and control (2): Controlling spaces of care

Cheryl McGeachan ‘Prisons are silent from the outside’: art therapy and Barlinnie’s Special Unit

Shilpi Rajpal and Debjani Das Ideology, Space and Cure: The North and East India Asylums in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Hazel Morrison From moral deficiency to the psychopathic states. Negotiating care, control, identity and diagnosis, in 1920s Gartnavel Mental Hospital

Frida Wikstrom The meeting room – Discharging patients from St Lars hospital in Lund, Sweden 1967–1992

Jennifer Farquharson Soldiers and asylum care: the peculiar case of Craig Dunain hospital, 1914-1934

Examining troubling institutions and geographies at the nexus of care and control (3): Looking beyond ‘closed’ spaces towards other institutions of care and control

Sylvia Meichsner Residential child- and youth care at the intersection of care and control

Rachael Stryker Juvenile Boot Camps and the Making of Interstitial Citizens in the United States

Katrine Syppli Kohl Troubled Encounters: the governmentalization of the accommodation centre for asylum seekers

Emma Wainwright and Elodie Marandet Housing Associations as institutional space: tenant welfare/workfare, care and control

Repo Virve Legally limited spaces: Spatial control in Finnish retirement homes

And later this year, look out for a carceral geography call for the Nordic Geographers Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, in June 2017.


Jennifer Turner and Dominique Moran