Carceral Geography Working Group: new Book Review series

The Carceral Geography Working Group is instigating a book review series to be hosted here on the CGWG website.

The first batch of books (back cover blurb) for review, for which we are now inviting reviewers, are:

Badcock, Sarah (2016) A Prison Without Walls?: Eastern Siberian Exile in the Last Badcock A prison without wallsYears of Tsarism A Prison Without Walls? presents a snapshot of daily life for exiles and their dependents in eastern Siberia during the very last years of the Tsarist regime, from the 1905 revolution to the collapse of the Tsarist regime in 1917. This was an extraordinary period in Siberia’s history as a place of punishment. There was an unprecedented rise of Siberia’s penal use in this fifteen-year window, and a dramatic increase in the number of exiles punished for political offences. This work focuses on the region of Eastern Siberia, taking the regions of Irkutsk and Yakutsk in north-eastern Siberia as its focal points. Siberian exile was the antithesis of Foucault’s modern prison. The State did not observe, monitor, and control its exiles closely; often not even knowing where the exiles were. Exiles were free to govern their daily lives; free of fences and free from close observation and supervision, but despite these freedoms, Siberian exile represented one of Russia’s most feared punishments. In this volume, Sarah Badcock seeks to humanise the individuals who made up the mass of exiles, and the men, women, and children who followed them voluntarily into exile. A Prison Without Walls? is structured in a broad narrative arc that moves from travel to exile, life and communities in exile, work and escape, and finally illness in exile. The book gives a personal, human, empathetic insight into what exilic experience entailed, and allows us to comprehend why eastern Siberia was regarded as a terrible punishment, despite its apparent freedoms.

Behan, Cormac (2017) Citizen convicts: Prisoners, politics and the voteBehan citizen convicts Prisoner enfranchisement remains one of the few contested electoral issues in twenty-first-century democracies. It is at the intersection of punishment and representative government. Many jurisdictions remain divided on whether or not prisoners should be allowed access to the franchise. This book investigates the experience of prisoner enfranchisement in the Republic of Ireland. It examines the issue in a comparative context, beginning by locating prisoner enfranchisement in a theoretical framework, exploring the arguments for and against allowing prisoners to vote. Drawing on global developments in jurisprudence and penal policy, it examines the background to, and wider significance of, this change in the law. Using the Irish experience to examine the issue in a wider context, this book argues that the legal position concerning the voting rights of the imprisoned reveals wider historical, political and social influences in the treatment of those confined in penal institutions.

Dzur, Albert, Ian Loader, and Richard Sparks (2016) (Eds) Democratic Theory and Mass Incarceration Dzur democratic theoryThe United States leads the world in incarceration, and the United Kingdom is persistently one of the European countries with the highest per capita rates of imprisonment. Yet despite its increasing visibility as a social issue, mass incarceration – and its inconsistency with core democratic ideals – rarely surfaces in contemporary Anglo-American political theory. Democratic Theory and Mass Incarceration seeks to overcome this puzzling disconnect by deepening the dialogue between democratic theory and punishment policy. This collection of original essays initiates a multi-disciplinary discussion among philosophers, political theorists, and criminologists regarding ways in which contemporary democratic theory might begin to think beyond mass incarceration. Rather than viewing punishment as a natural reaction to crime and imprisonment as a sensible outgrowth of this reaction, the volume argues that crime and punishment are institutions that reveal unmet demands for public oversight and democratic influence. Chapters explore theoretical paths towards de-carceration and alternatives to prison, suggest ways in which democratic theory can strengthen recent reform movements, and offer creative alternatives to mass incarceration. Democratic Theory and Mass Incarceration offers guideposts for critical thinking about incarceration, examining ways to rebuild crime control institutions and create a healthier, more just society.

Furman, Rich, Douglas Epps, and Greg Lamphear (Eds) (2016) Detaining the Immigrant Other: Global and Transnational Issues Furman detaining the immigrant otherThis edited text explores immigration detention through a global and transnational lens. Immigration detention is frequently transnational; the complex dynamics of apprehending, detaining, and deporting undocumented immigrants involve multiple organizations that coordinate and often act across nation state boundaries. The lives of undocumented immigrants are also transnational in nature; the detention of immigrants in one country (often without due process and without providing the opportunity to contact those in their country of origin) has profound economic and emotional consequences for their families. The authors explore immigration detention in countries that have not often been previously explored in the literature. Some of these chapters include analyses of detention in countries such as Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey and Indonesia. They also present chapters that are comparative in nature and deal with larger, macro issues about immigration detention in general. The authors’ frequent usage of lived experience in conjunction with a broad scholarly knowledge base is what sets this volume apart from others, making it useful and practical for scholars in the social sciences and anybody interested in the global phenomenon of immigration detention.

Hasan, Mushirul (2016) Roads to Freedom: Prisoners under Colonial Rule Hasan Roads to FreedomThis book examines the history of prison and prisoners in colonial India. Based on substantial archival research, it presents the conditions of the prisoners, their vision for the freedom movement and the various aspects of prisons in the subcontinent. By focusing on the lives and motivations of select prisoners, it places their lived experiences within the larger rubric of Indian nationalism and explores the notions of the political, protest and resistance during the first half of the twentieth century. The work also deals with issues such as the differences between Indian and European prisons as well as the conception of criminal classes in the colony. It therefore fills in a gap area in modern Indian history and provides a historical context to the contemporary Indian prison system. It draws upon a wide range of sources including the records at the National Archives of India, private papers, native newspaper reports, memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies.

Johnson, Andrew (2017) If I Give My Soul: Faith Behind Bars in Rio de Janeiro Johnson If I give my soulPentecostal Christianity is flourishing inside the prisons of Rio de Janeiro. To find out why, Andrew Johnson dug deep into the prisons themselves. He began by spending two weeks living in a Brazilian prison as if he were an inmate: sleeping in the same cells as the inmates, eating the same food, and participating in the men’s daily routines as if he were incarcerated. And he returned many times afterward to observe prison churches’ worship services, which were led by inmates who had been voted into positions of leadership by their fellow prisoners. He accompanied Pentecostal volunteers when they visited cells that were controlled by Rio’s most dominant criminal gang to lead worship services, provide health care, and deliver other social services to the inmates. Why does this faith resonate so profoundly with the incarcerated? Pentecostalism, argues Johnson, is the “faith of the killable people” and offers ex-criminals and gang members the opportunity to positively reinvent their public personas. If I Give My Soul is a deeply personal look at the relationship between the margins of Brazilian society and the Pentecostal faith, both behind bars and in the favelas, Rio de Janeiro’s peripheral neighbourhoods. Based on his intimate relationships with the figures in this book, Johnson makes a passionate case that Pentecostal practice behind bars is an act of political radicalism as much as a spiritual experience.

Moran, Dominique and Anna Schliehe (Eds) (2017) Carceral Spatiality: Dialogues between Geography and Criminology carceral-spatialityThis edited collection speaks to and expands on existing debates around incarceration. Rather than focusing on the bricks and mortar of institutional spaces, this volume’s inventive engagements in ‘thinking through carcerality’ touch on more elusive concepts of identity, memory and internal – as well as physical – walls and bars. Edited by two human geographers, and positioned within a criminological context, this original collection draws together essays by geographers and criminologists with a keen interest in carceral studies. The authors stretch their disciplinary boundaries; tackling a range of contemporary literatures to engage in new conversations and raising important questions within current debates on incarceration. A highly interdisciplinary project, this edited collection will be of particular interest to scholars of the criminal justice system, social policy, and spatial carceral studies.

Reviews should be c1000 words in length, delivered within 2 months of receipt of the book, and should specifically consider the work in relation to carceral geography and geographical conceptualisations of confinement. Reviews will be published on the www.carceralgeography.com website.

Potential reviewers, please contact the CGWG committee via d.moran@bham.ac.uk to claim your chosen book!

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