6A Carcerality

Tuesday 18th December 2018 13:50-14:50

6A Carcerality


Crip social praxis art and pedagogy in resistance to the carceral

Liza Kim Jackson (York University) and Kirsten McIlveen (University of British Columbia)


Jackson and McIlveen draw on their experience as activists working with women whose well-being can be understood as being compromised according to the social determinants of health: poverty due to historical forms of intersectional oppressions within colonial capitalism and as a result, have been subject to diverse forms of institutionalization. While the focus is often on prisons, jails and legal apparatus as sites of incarceration, Foucault (1979) points out that carceral systems are geographically distributed: from the factory, to the poor house, from the residential school to the hospital, from the homeless shelter to social housing. Our research confirms that “sites of incarceration (i.e. prisons, youth homes, medical institutions) take shape in interaction with each other as various populations are sorted, identified, and treated according to rationalities and practices which, while different in many ways, all mark certain people as deviant” (Ben-Moshe et al.  2014, x). Furthermore, incarceration doesn’t just refer to physically bounded spaces, but also to carceral practices which occur in spaces that are removed from facilities of incarceration. Allspach’s (2010) study of recently released women prisoners in Canada shows how they continue to be heavily monitored and constrained, thus blurring distinctions between inside and outside.  Our work theorizes: the institution as an exclusionary geography of violence; the carceral system as working across sites from prisons and institutions for those with intellectual disabilities to shelters and social housing; the health and well-being impacts on those incarcerated; and educational and arts strategies that address the health-related impacts of institutional injustices. Understanding that institutionalization comprises an attack on bodies that thus threatens the health of those institutionalized, how do the educational and arts-based interventions proposed support the health and empowerment of those incarcerated and housed in institutional contexts? We examine how praxis-based arts and pedagogical approaches to working with women incarcerated in prisons, institutions for those with intellectual disabilities, and/or living in shelters, and social housing contribute to abolitionist, feminist, and queer anti-carceral activism/organizing and what impacts these approaches have on the health of community members.


Against E-carceration: Electronic monitoring,“place-making practices” and penal politics

Mike Nellis (University of Strathclyde)


Foucault’s use of “carceral”,  as amplified in US critiques of mass incarceration, denotes a continuum of imprisonment and supervisory and surveillant practices outside prison walls, whose effects “in the community” are assumed a priori to be prison-like, an attenuated but still egregious form of incarceration itself. In certain academic and activist circles, electronic monitoring (EM) – a method of remotely regulating the spatial and temporal mobility of suspects and offenders – was quickly dubbed a carceral technology, and condemned accordingly, despite the manifest variability of the supervisory regimes that different EM technologies are or can be used with. “Virtual prison” was initially used by champions of EM before being appropriated by critics; the term “e-carceration” – US penal abolitionists term of choice – has never had anything but critical connotations. Counter-intuitively – because I don’t dispute the social harm that some EM does – I wish to disagree somewhat with this approach. In Henri Lefebvre’s terms EM is undoubtedly a “place-making practice”, but the places created by monitoring authorities need not be prison-like in the experience of those subject to them, and may be helpful. Nor, do local communities necessarily perceive them as prison-like.  This paper will explore EM as a digital “place-making practice”, in the broader context of both “digital governance” and social justice, and argue that penal progressives must engage with all its possibilities, rather than rejecting it outright, lest the agenda for its use is ceded by default to those who would indeed only deploy it in prison-like ways.