3B Explorations of the ‘Carceral’

Parallel Session 3B (Day 1 15.40-16.40)

Explorations of the ‘Carceral’

Daphne Caillol (University Paris 7) : From Nanny to Prisoner: the impact of carceral spaces on irregular women domestic workers in the Middle East

This paper was not audio-recorded, but slides are available.

In parts of the Middle East, migrant women domestic workers sign a two year live-in contracts for domestic services. They are prevented from leaving the house without the permission of their employer. Based on short-term live-in contracts, some migration policies tend to confine migrant women to employers’ homes, thus restricting their access to urban amenities and limiting their interactions with co-ethnics. Some women manage to circumvent this temporary and institutionalized migration into a longer experience by leaving their employer’s house. However, in doing so, most of them lose their legal status and become irregular workers in the city. Regular control and incarceration of women migrants take place while they are using urban public spaces. Thus, all women staying irregularly have experienced several episodes of detention. The aim of this article is to analyze the detention process of women workers in relation to local migration policy as well as the impact of carceral spaces on women’s life trajectory. In order to do so, I examine the trajectories of two Filipina women within a Middle Eastern detention system from arrest to release. I argue that the complexity of the incarceration process serves to control and bury the presence of women’s migratory careers. This paper is an initial stage research based on the visit of one Filipina woman in a detention center as well as the tracking of two women’s detention trajectories from arrest to release. The data collection took place in June 2017.

Annie Pfingst (Goldsmiths, University of London; British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) Nairobi) : Carceral geographies of settler colonial dispossession and oppression.

Imprisonment, arbitrary detention, mass arrest, collective punishment, curfews and siege – at one and the same time the practices of belligerent military occupation and of colonial states of Emergency. Drawing on spatial, archival, visual and discursive analyses of the British State of Emergency over 1950s Kenya and of the Israeli state of Emergency over Palestine since 1948, this paper argues that the technologies of dispossession and architectures of oppression that characterise settler colonialism and colonial states of emergency, that assemble sites of control, surveillance, interrogation and detention, and zones of separation render geographies in their totality, as carceral. The paper takes a carceral lens to the 1954 British Emergency dispersal of Kenyans from the neighbourhoods of east Nairobi detained for screening and finally detention on the Coast; and the ongoing civilian and military surveillance, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of Palestinians. It argues that material and spatial arrangements – walls, enclosures, surveillance towers, settlements, systems of movement and its corollary, the prevention and monitoring of movement – together with mechanisms of control and containment – passes, permissions, population registers and colour coded identity – assemble and re-assemble multiple often temporary but in effect permanent carceral geographies. Palestinians inhabit these differentially administered carceral geographies not only in the occupied Palestinian territories (the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem) but also within the state, subject to the harm and injury that emanate from the continuing force of dispossession. Finally, in the genealogy of states of emergency (among them Ireland, India, Malaya, Kenya, Palestine) the paper argues, not for exceptionalism, but rather for an appreciation of the simultaneity of the assemblage of carceral geographies that authorise colonial controls, including that of militarized violence, and in turn the colonial mechanisms of control that render geographies as carceral, militarized and violent.

J M Moore (Newman University, Birmingham) : Not without Irony: Carceral Geography in Birmingham

This paper explores the early histories of the Royal Geographic Society (RGS), geography as an academic discipline in Britain, and Birmingham prison. The RGS was established in 1830 and at its founding meeting appointed Alexander Maconochie as its secretary and editor of its Journal. Maconochie, a retired naval officer was subsequently, in 1833, appointed as Professor of Geography at University College, London, the first such appointment in a British University (Ward 1960). In 1849 work was completed on the construction of Birmingham Borough’s new gaol at Winson Green.  The local magistrates, at the urging of Matthew Davenport Hill, Birmingham’s Recorder, decided, without advertising, to appoint as its first Governor, Alexander Maconochie. In the two decades since the founding of the RGS Maconochie had established himself as a leading penal theorist and had spent four years (1840-1844) as the Superintendent of Norfolk Island penal settlement, where his innovative regime had provoked extensive comment, both favourable and highly critical. Maconochie’s two year (1849-1851) tenure at Birmingham was not a happy one and characterised by illegal punishments, failed experiments and conflict (Moore 2016). These histories are used to highlight how the establishment of the discipline of geography and the reform agenda that shaped the modern prison had common aims and complementary ideologies. Through the career and ideas of Maconochie, the founding Secretary of the RGS and the first Governor of Birmingham prison, I make links between the carceral and geography which poise important and challenging questions for the emerging (sub-) discipline of carceral geography.