Session 1: Time-space

9:30-10:30      Session 1: Time-space Chair: Dominique Moran

“UNLOCK!”: Constructing and navigating carceral TimeSpace in prisoner writing Eleanor March (University of Surrey, UK)

Carceral geography proposes that the experience of imprisonment is both spatial and temporal, as prisoners are confined within a designated space for a fixed period of time. For the prisoner, time and space are thus “co-constitutive”, combining to form a hybrid “carceral TimeSpace” (Moran, 2012). The prisoner’s journey through carceral TimeSpace can be characterised by both mobility and immobility, as they are removed from society in an act of “coerced mobility” (Moran, 2015, p.71), and held immobile in the prison. Prison authorities control movement within the carceralenvironment, demonstrating the power of the institution over the prisoner (Ugelvik, 2014). This paper seeks to offer further insights into carceral TimeSpace and its movements, by drawing on the neglected area of prisoner writing. Employing techniques from literary studies, alongside theories from carceral geography, criminology and sociolinguistics, I examine how the spatiotemporal experience of imprisonment is depicted in short stories about prison, written by prisoners, and published by the UK charities Koestler Arts and the Prison Reform Trust. My analysis specifically focuses on the inclusion within prisoner writing of official prison jargon relating to prison space, routines, and movements. My analysis of prisoner writing suggests that official prison jargon plays an important role in constructing carceral TimeSpace for prisoners and prison staff, by delineating carceral spaces and defining the ways that they can be navigated. At the same time, the presence of such language within prisoner writing constructs carceral TimeSpace for the non-prisoner reader, shaping their perception of the prison world. Crucially, writing provides a way for prisoners to resist the restrictions of carceral TimeSpace, by appropriating and reworking official prison jargon within their writing, as a way to share their experiences with those outside prison walls.

Top-bunk, bottom-bunk –The geographies of cell sharing Anna Schliehe (University of Cambridge, UK) and Ben Crewe (University of Cambridge, UK)

Sharing a prison cell is at once mundane practice and highly complicated terrain. The politics involved in cell sharing reach right into the most personal parts of prisoners’ lives, and are highly determinate of their experiences of imprisonment. While there is a small amount of research on the impact of cell-sharing on personal wellbeing and prison quality (Molleman and van Ginneken 2014; Muirhead 2018), much less has been written about the daily dynamics and significance of negotiating shared space under conditions of coercion. In this paper, based on in-depth research undertaken in England & Wales (where cell-sharing is common practice), we explore the experience of cell-sharing and the manifold ways in which the geographies of the cell matter both intimately and socially. The paper describes the forms of collaboration and conflict involved in dealing with matters such as excrement, dirt and drug withdrawal, the norms involved in practices like watching television and choosing who has which bunk, and the relationship between such phenomena and the prisoner social world, including status and the debt economy.