Session 6: Webs of exclusion II

11:00-12:30    Session 6: Webs of exclusion II Chair: Anouk Mertens 

The carceral archipelago is not that vast Olivier Milhaud (Sorbonne Université/ Médiations -sciences des lieux, sciences des liens, France) and Franck Ollivon (ENS Ulm / UMR EVS-5600, France) 

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, commentators have often compared the common experience of the lockdown to the carceral experience of inmates and probationers: confinement (at home) and strong mobility reduction. We draw from our works on the French prisons and the French electronic monitoring system to discuss the relevance of such a carceral metaphor. Even if the lockdown is based on a restriction of movement like a kind of house arrest, it isn’t part of a penal procedure and, as a consequence, doesn’t bear the same legal and moral implications for the confined individuals. This comparison between lockdown, prison and electronic monitoring, however misleading, urges the scientific community – and geographers in particular – to reconsider the definition of the carceral beyond the articulation between space and movements. Borrowing from Foucault’s work (especially the last chapter of Discipline and Punish), we argue that the carceral and the disciplinary don’t completely overlap, although they both refer to the control over the individual’s whereabouts. What Foucault calls a carceral archipelago looks like a disciplinary/normalization archipelago. The carceral can be defined as only a subset of the disciplinary in the sense that, with the carceral,the control is linked to a legal punishment and a moral stigma. Punishments and stigmas remain in a post-disciplinary prison. The production of the stigma through space and movement could be a venue for carceral geographers. It is the moral constitution of the deviant that enables geographers to focus on a more circumscribed carceral geography than the one proposed by Moran, Turner and Schliehe (2017) around detriment, intention and spatiality. By focusing on a more restricted carceral realm, geographers are to be better equipped to envision a larger geography of freedom, that fully encompasses not only the extension of the penal net but also the spatial organization of summer camps, stadiums, cruise liners, that borrow several geographical aspects of the carceral.

Digital confinement–Reconfigurations of mobility and space through electronic monitoring and facial recognition for migration control in the USA Carolina Sanchez BOE (Université de Paris/ CUNY/ IMC Aarhus University, Denmark) 

GPS ankle monitors, electronic shackles or “grillete electronico” in Spanish, were initially introduced forty years ago in the US criminal justice system as an alternative to incarceration. Since then, the numbers of imprisoned and monitored persons have been ever escalating. Similarly, the introduction of electronic monitoring as an alternative to the detention of immigrants (ATD) in the USA in 2004 has not stopped the ever-expanding use of detention, and in a parallel development, the numbers of immigrants who are monitored through electronic ankle monitors have skyrocketed. Both human rights advocates and private contractors have actively promoted the use ofATD as an allegedly more ‘humane’ and cost-effective form of border control. Private corporations, which were central for the expansion of the ‘criminal industrial complex’ and the ‘immigration industrial complex’, have invested the expanding market of ATD. Today, whether migrants are held in detention or are monitored through electronic ankle bracelets or facial recognition software, the same contractors profit. Based on fieldwork in New York and Texas, this paper will discuss the extractive logics applied to humans and their mobility, which prevail in these forms of digital confinement, and how they have spread to increasingly diverse categories of foreign-nationals, from the supervision of so-called ‘criminal aliens’ to that of female asylum seekers at the Southern Border. The contribution will analyze the ways in which the patterns of mobility of migrants are shaped through a device strapped unto the body or a facial recognition software that makes them traceable at all times, and which open the possibility for immediate arrest if they disrespect a curfew or if their immigration case amounts to a deportation. It will discuss the theoretical implications of how these forms of digital confinement reconfigure the temporal and spatial experiences of confinement and the possibilities of contestation of migrants.

Video under development – originally-recorded version experienced technical interruption. Watch this space!

A prison in superimposed states. On the ambiguities of the contemporary carceral project Christophe Mincke (National Institute of Criminalistics and Criminology, Belgium) 

For a long time, the prison has been thought as an isolated (material and non-material) space, internally divided into separated areas and cells. In this context, prison-time was seen as a lost period in one’s life, without any content but the infinite repetition of routines (Mincke et Lemonne 2014). Therefore, the classical prison appears as ruled by a specific time-space representation: the limit-form, based on the combination of a border-based space and a time made of stasis and ruptures (Mincke et Montulet 2019). The prison is nowadays reframed accordingly to new standards (Mincke 2020), grounded on internal decompartmentalisation, openness to the outside and circulation of services, goods, information and individuals. Time in this “new prison” has to be used to make things change. This matches with the flow-form, which opposes the limit-form, based on a continuously flowing time and a networked borderless space (Mincke et Montulet 2019). We have studied this material and non-material spatiotemporal shift in the preparatory documents of the Belgian penitentiary act of 2005 (the so-called “loi de principes”), using NVIVO, a discourse analysis software.We now would like to go further and go beyond the idea of a new model replacing the old one. In our contribution, we shall argue that –and show how –the flow-form does not entirely replace the limit-form but, instead, introduces a tension between these two spatiotemporal regimes. We aim at showing that defining the contemporary prison is a hard work, among other reasons because of a superimposition of states that results from a contradiction between carceral projects. The prison is supposed to be both open and closed, as circulation of inmates, services, goods and information should be both encouraged and hindered. We shall try to define domains in which one of these models could be prominent.