Session 4: Liminalities

15:30 -16:30   Session 4: Liminalities Chair: Jennifer Turner 

The quasi-carceral liminality of prison visitation transportation services Dylan Haywood (University of Delaware, United States) 

Prison visitation transportation services provide an important yet understudied role in the process of prison visitation for many people with incarcerated loved ones. This project draws from the findings of an ethnographic study on the experiences of loved ones of incarcerated people using a small, Black-owned prison visitation transportation service. As the first study of its kind focused on the experiences of prison visitation transportation services, this project highlights the important role these services play in the lives of those who use them, and how these services are shaped by their relationship to the carceral state. Prison visitation transportation services help to mitigate carceral control over the lives of those who use these services to visit their incarcerated loved ones, but in turn these services are also subjected to an intensive form of carceral control themselves, causing them to inadvertently extend the reach of the carceral state further into the lives of their customers. Caught between mitigating the harms of incarceration for loved ones on the outside and being forced to comply with the carceral state’s control of visitors, prison visitation transportation services assume a “peculiar status” of quasi-carceral liminal spaces.

The herder inmate. Challenging carceral (im)mobility in the vast estates of the Italian prison farms Sabrina Puddu (KU Leuven, Belgium) 

This paper proposes a reflection from within the tangible condition of space and mobility – through space – of humans and animals by looking at a particular carceral setting: the Italian prison farm (or agrarian penal colony) as established in the c.19th and still surviving as a marginal institution within the national penal system. Occupying loosely-fenced rural estates of up to 3000 hectares encompassing forests, lakes, pastures, and agricultural fields, this peculiar type of prison is structured through a network of roads connecting a central settlement and several detached branches. Residential sub-units in charge of a specific sector of the estate, while monitoring staff and inmates’ behaviour, productivity, and movement within the sector, the branches control the boundaries amid sectors and with the adjacent free countryside, minimising exchanges of illegal goods and intercourses, and the trespassing of people and animals. Three still-operating prison farms are located in the region of Sardinia. In these carceral estates most inmates are employed as shepherds and experience carcerality by enjoying a relative freedom of movement that often unfolds disrespectful of the tracks built by the institution and according to a pastoral practice – nomadic herding – that have characterised Sardinian society since antiquity (Le Lannou, 1941). Despite the long-lasting national effort to modernise and stabilise animal-farming – effort to which prison farms actively contributed (Puddu, 2015; Di Pasquale, 2019) – errant herding has lingered in free society and also, paradoxically, within the very carceral estates. I will discuss how, within the territorial project of the Italian prison farms and its uncertain, yet extensive, structures of control, the movement of the herder inmate after the wondering of sheep, goats, and cattle in search for pastures and waters, is a practice that simultaneously contradicts and adheres to the spatiality of the prison estate. This paper is grounded on archival and field research in the prisons of Mamone, Isili, Asinara, and Is Arenas.