Carceral Geography Conferencing

2016/17 brings new opportunities for discussion and development in carceral geography!

Hoping to continue in the tradition of a strong presence of research in carceral geography at American Association of Geographers (AAG) conferences since Washington DC in 2010, Austin Kocher, Nick Gill and I have just issued a Call for Papers for the AAG in Boston, MA to be held April 5-9 2017:

Global Carceral Geographies

Organizers

Austin Kocher (Ohio State University)

Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham)

Nicholas Gill (University of Exeter)

Confinement is on the move. In recent years, governments around the world have resorted to the spatial power of incarceration in its many architectural, legal, and embodied forms to shutter away an enormous number of lives that are deemed undesirable, undocumented or dangerous. From the U.S.’ enormous federal and state prison system to Libya’s migrant jails at the edges of the E.U., the confinement of bodies has been used as a panacea to complex political and economic crises, often exacerbating the very problems they claim to resolve and creating a global underclass of people confined and/or surveilled by the state and for-profit contractors. We use the term confinement here as an ecumenical concept that aims to bring together the many sites (jails, prisons, detention centers, holding facilities, airplanes, buses, etc.) and practices (arrest, sentencing, solitary confinement, internal uprisings and resistance, abuse, deportation, parole) that shed light on the management of bodies.

Geographers have played a critical role in research on confinement, including the political economy of prisons (Bonds, 2009; Conlon & Hiemstra, 2017; Gilmore, 2007), the proliferation of immigrant detention (Loyd, Mitchelson, & Burridge, 2013; Martin, 2012; Moran, Gill, & Conlon, 2013; Mountz, 2011; Mountz, Coddington, Catania, & Loyd, 2013), affective and embodied life inside detention (Moran et al., 2013; Morin, 2013), historical geographies of confinement (Morin & Moran, 2015), and carceral mobilities (Peters & Turner, in press). A central theme of this work is that confinement is complex and heterogeneous, and it also reproduces power relations that exceed formal spaces of incarceration (Gill, Conlon, Moran, & Burridge, forthcoming). We aim to move this literature forward by challenging the apparent differences between various types of confinement (such as incarceration and immigrant detention), widening our discussion of confinement beyond the U.S. and U.K., and deepening our methodological and theoretical frameworks for analyzing carceral geographies.

To this end, we invite papers on research related to carceral geographies for the AAG 2017. We are especially interested in ongoing and experimental research on new forms of incarceration, detention and resistance, both within and beyond carceral geography, including contributions from cognate disciplines (e.g. criminology, prison sociology and critical legal studies).

Possible themes include:

  • the institutional convergences and divergences of detention and incarceration
  • confinement outside of the Anglophone world
  • uprisings and internal resistance
  • carceral circuitry
  • family and childhood detention
  • confinement in historical perspective
  • carceral mobilities
  • related institutions: courts, police, parole, sheriffs, border patrol
  • neoliberal prison reform
  • identity and social difference
  • LGBTQ+ issues and resistance
  • private for-profit economies
  • emotional and affective experiences of incarceration
  • geographies of cradle-to-prison pipelines
  • prison architecture and design
  • exporting and importing confinement
  • alternatives to confinement
  • theoretical and methodological approaches to carceral geographies

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Austin Kocher (kocher.51@osu.edu) by October 1, 2016 to be considered for the paper session. If we receive an excess of excellent proposals, we will consider expanding to more than one paper session.

Once your abstract is approved by the organizers, you will still need to register separately with the AAG website by October 27, 2016.

The 2017 AAG Annual Meeting will be held in Boston from April 5th through 9th. See http://www.aag.org/annualmeeting for more details.

On the UK side of the Atlantic, plans are in process for the first stand-alone conference for Carceral Geography, to be held at the University of Birmingham on 12-13th December 2016. Watch this space for more details and a Call for Papers!

Carceral Geographies at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Chicago, IL

by Jen Turner

The recent meeting of the AAG was a very fruitful event for those interested in carceral geographies, with some of the offerings in the sub-discipline comprising of the six paper sessions and panel session organised by myself and Dominique Moran. Held over two of the five days in the conference programme, the quality and variety of papers is testament to the ongoing vibrancy of the area of carceral geographies.

In the first session on “Theorisations of Confinement”, Christophe Mincke began proceedings with his paper entitled Prison: Legitimacy Through Mobility? Mincke scrutinised the relationship between prison and mobility (and the counterpart societal relations that render this problematic) to interrogate the notion of a continuum of carceral mobilities. His case study surrounding the Belgian Prison Act considered the flow and activity of spaces of incarceration. Continuing this theme, Kimberley Peters (with co-author Jennifer Turner) called for a consideration of carceral mobility that extends beyond horizontal motion in her ‘Unlock the volume’: bringing height and depth to carceral mobilities. Peters and Turner’s theorisation of volumetric carceral mobilities is drawn from archival research into voyages on board convict ships transporting prisoners to colonies in Australia in the early nineteenth century. In the final paper of this session, Stephanie Figgins took a lead from Matthew Mitchelson’s notion of bedspace in her paper Between the Sheets of the U.S. Deportation Regime. Figgins illustrated how the detention state can become numerically evaluated according to cost and availability of single bed units and detailed measures by which detainees were treated with negative associations of “docile and lazy” spaces of sleep. Acting as our first discussant, Nick Gill commented upon the variety of rich methods for theorising different aspects of movement and evaluation practices across these different carceral spaces. Gill was particularly keen to see methodological innovation for carceral geographers in order to reflect the advancement of theorisations in these areas.

The second paper session very clearly adhered to its guiding themes of “Prison Architecture and Design”. Gideon Boie turned again to Belgium in Prison Up Close: the new subject of a penitentiary spatial structure. Detailing the development of the highly contested prison masterplan, he exemplified the proposed Huizen (“houses”) which would encompass small-scale residential complexes outside of the traditional prison perimeter. Boie presented a very hopeful future for humane prison design where architects had a social responsibility for developments. In contrast, Dominique Moran (presenting work co-authored by Jennifer Turner and Yvonne Jewkes) observed how prison design in the UK disrupts notions in architectural geographies of a creative architect playing a central role in building production. In Becoming big things: Building events and the architectural geographies of incarceration in England and Wales, Moran appraised processes of commissioning and tendering, as well as design and modelling which combines to restrict the function of architects in the design process and limits their involvement in the final prison product. Taking note of these practices to produce homogenous and replicable prison spaces, I presented my paper Components of the carceral: The lived experience of prison design (which was also co-authored with Dominique and Yvonne). Here, I considered the implications of these one-size-fits-all design policies upon the irrational and non-normative bodies that these spaces house, calling for attention to the microarchitectures of prison space. Finally, taking a more positive tract, Fie Vandamme introduced a project comprising focus groups with prisoners exploring their responses to different design choices. Entitled Fit IN Stand OUT: Rules and Elements for Humane Prison Architecture, Vandamme’s paper explained how ten rules for prison design had evolved from this participatory research. These included everything from ownership over cell door keys to re-thinking spaces such as landings and corridors. In summarising these papers Lauren Martin raised questions about whether prison design can indeed engineer a way to rehabilitation and encouraged consideration of these potential counterarguments. Beyond innovation of prison design itself, Martin asked whether carceral geographers should have a role in suggesting the reduction of the prison estate as an alternative solution.

Orisanmi Burton presented first in the session entitled “Activity, Agency and Organisation”. The Politics of Containment: Prison-Based Activism in the Empire State focussed upon the ideas and practices of the Black Consciousness Coalition (BCC), an activist organisation that operates within a men’s prison in New York State. Burton’s correspondence with BCC leadership formed the basis for this paper, generating important questions about the kind of politics that can practiced by serving prisoners within carceral space due to censorship and negotiation of these restrictions. Lloyd Gray drew upon his interests in prisoner education to explore prisoner perceptions of this area. His paper was entitled How do prisoners experience and perceive the education environment within a prison? An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach. Using empirical data from interviews conducted with prisoners involved with education programmes, Gray interrogated the positive associations beyond the classroom that such involvement may generate. Geraldine Brown and Elizabeth Bos introduced their paper, A holistic evaluation of delivering a community based food growing mentoring programme in a prison setting with substance misuse offenders on behalf of their colleagues (including Geraldine Brady) at the University of Coventry. Their paper detailed the positive results of the Master Gardener Programme introduced in a male prison in the Midlands of the UK. Participants were asked to assess their own recovery journey through the development of personal ‘circles of change’ through the identification of points of change. Acting as discussant Shaul Cohen praised the research conducted by all presenters in being able to achieve meaningful interaction with serving prisoners. These collaborative data generation projects would potentially aid much fruitful research which could help discern what is happening in these activities within prison, further revealing the how and why of activity and organisation within the carceral setting.

In “Gendered and Embodied ConfinementVictoria Knight’s paper Modus Vivendi: The cell, emotions, social relations and television considered the treaty or resolve prisoners might undertake in their negotiation of television-watching in shared cell spaces. Attending to the politics of scheduling and taste, Knight also interrogated the legitimisation of television access as a means of ensuring safety and appropriate cell-sharing. Jessica Bird’s paper Segregation in Scottish Prisons: A Socio-Spatial History demonstrated a recognition of geographical scholarship in the recent carceral past. The paper detailed a breadth of interests from her wider PhD thesis including a charting of architectural design from community to cellular confinement, through to the designation by prisoners of spaces of imprisonment as ‘war zones’, ‘graves’, ‘sanctuaries’ and ‘creative spaces’. William Payne provided a unique empirical example in Governmentality, performativity and sexuality – A scholarly consideration of a drag show in a prison. Focussing upon the area of the Sally Port (the area between the prison gate and the prison inside proper) he posited this space as a kind of borderland in which a complex relationship of scrutiny, surveillance and (paradoxically) movement all at once occurs. Rae Rosenberg examined transcultural identities in carceral geography through a paper entitled Transgender Embodiment in Carceral Space: Hypermasculinity and the US Prison Industrial Complex. Rosenberg recounted restrictions imposed upon transgender prisoners such as upon their physical appearance (being forced to cut hair and nails) and access to hormones. Surprisingly, his paper detailed occasions of hope and resistance whereby prisoners successfully harnessed their chosen identities through imaginative mobilities to outside space through prisoner artwork. These underlying hopeful messages were central to the summary suggestions outlined by Karen Morin. Recognising the importance of gender and embodiment in all aspects of carceral scholarship Morin drew all four papers together through purposeful activities prisoners were involved with in each of the four papers: creative enterprise, communication, negotiation and collaboration in such restrictive spaces.

In the first of two sessions focussing on “(Re)defining Boundaries”, Elizabeth Bos and Geraldine Brown returned to the case study of the Master Gardener Programme. Here their paper, We were there too: Reflexive experiences of evaluating a prison gardening intervention negotiated the complex subject of researcher positionality in the prison setting. Drawing upon their own ethnographic data, Bos and Brown interrogated the specific role of gender, religion and race in their research project. Following this, Dana Cuomo’s paper Incarceration and domestic violence: Perspectives from victims on the outside offered an analysis of public and private violence, questioning the role of incarceration for domestic violence offenders. Using qualitative data gathered during fieldwork in a domestic violence unit of a local police department, this paper examined the experiences of women following the incarceration of their abusive partners. In the following paper, Tony Sparks noted how the punitive turn in urban policy more broadly has been accompanied by an expansion by spaces of care and rehabilitation, especially as cities have come to question mass incarceration. His paper, entitled The Asylum is on These Streets: Managing Mental Illness in the Carceral Community drew upon court records, interviews, and ethnographic fieldwork conducted within San Francisco’s Behavioral Health Court to explore the ways in which ideals of community and community care are imbricated within broader logics of confinement and governmental control. In the final paper of the session, Avril Maddrell introduced The charity shop, permeable carceral spaces, gendered power relations, reparation and rehabilitation. Here, she introduced in-depth interview data from a ten-year review of a scheme employing prisoners upon day release in charity shops (thrift stores). Her paper utilised the concept of ‘bordering’ to interrogate the permeable and impermeable spaces and boundaries of what constitutes prison and the vernacularisation of carceral processes. By way of final conclusion to a successful day of papers, I had the opportunity to act as discussant. By pulling these four papers together around the theme of the session, it is clear that there is a wealth of opportunity to consider how the prison border may be conceptualised. How does the boundary come to be positive or negative, depending on the circumstances? These papers also raised questions about how researchers traverse such boundaries and the potentiality of such projects to inform/transform the lived experience of carceral space.

 

The second day of sessions was opened by Oriane Simon in our closing paper session focussing again upon “(Re)defining Boundaries”. Her paper entitled Extraordinary Rendition’s Transfers in Ambiguous Spaces was a powerful interrogation of the process of movement of these detainees itself, focusing upon the importance of the body in, for example, resisting such things as sensory deprivation during transport. Following this Vanessa Massaro’s paper (read in absentia) focused upon Prison’s revolving door and the porous boundaries of carceral spaces. By exemplifying the similarities between neighbourhood blocks and prison cell blocks, Massaro considered the reproduction of spaces from the ‘inside’ on the outside fuelled by drug activities. In doing so, this paper powerfully argues for continued attention to carceral spaces beyond the boundaries of the institution. Our final paper of the series was delivered by Stephen Sherman, who turned our attention in the direction of GIS to interrogate Why Drug-Free School Zones are Bad for Communities: Evaluating sentence enhancement zone outcomes across urban forms. Here Sherman demonstrated how policy – here the implementation of Drug-Free Zones – creates nodes of carcerality. By criminalising certain activities in particular areas, these policies introduce geographical spaces where individuals are more likely to be incarcerated. Dominique Moran as discussant shared a number of common themes between the three papers, including the recognition of multiple spaces and overlapping jurisdictions of carceral spaces; the significance of transfers between such spaces; and the constant state of becoming evident in the carceral state and its practices. This raised a number of pertinent questions including those of what a carceral identity might consist of and what indeed it may adhere to.

Our final session, featured Shaul Cohen, Deirdre Conlon, Nick Gill and Dominique Moran in a panel on the subject of “Future Directions in Carceral Geographies”. In this session, panellists were asked to say a few words to situate carceral geographies within the wider discipline/alongside other disciplines and suggest areas for forthcoming attention. Beginning proceedings, Deirdre Conlon noted the encouraging attention to social, cultural, active and embodied carceral geographies – as evidenced clearly in the programme of these sessions. However, she invited scholars to (re)consider political and economic elements and their complex relationships with these other aspects. Conlon also asked carceral geographers to think about the interplay between detention centres and prisons, particularly because, firstly, the immigrant detention population is growing and, secondly, it is the site where privatisation first began. She called for research that attended specifically to migrant detainees in mainstream prisons. Continuing the discussion, Shaul Cohen posed the suggestion of people inside prison having a more active role in shaping research design, since there are insights that only people living and working within prison can have. Cohen encouraged more of these collaborations within the research design process. Cohen also noted that the prison is still often invisible to both “authorities and the ordinary”. His hope is that carceral geographers would consider the constituencies for their outputs; making policy-makers and prison administrators the targets for such research in the hope that they can be educated in how things might be different. Nick Gill echoed the preceding panellists and began his comments with an illustration of the detention centre The Verne, opened in the UK in 2014. Previously a prison, it had its security level increased and is now used to house detainees in a very peripheral location in the UK and raises some important issues. Gill considered that the importance of space, location and mobility is not necessarily known by the authorities. Judges pass sentences in terms of time, not space, and this does not take into account how hard a sentence may be in certain areas. He encouraged us to consider the symbolic aspects of location of prison. He also called for a disruption of a myth of consistency – prisons may indeed be different due to the local community, the local market conditions, the local culture, and the social injustices that may be generated by this. Gill’s second area of interest was a consideration of punishment and justice more generally. Academics (and those beyond it) ought to have a serious conversation about the role of punishment – should people be punished for the things they have done? Finally, Gill considered the role of academic research and the importance of making a difference to the current situation. He exemplified the actions of the Detention Forum in being able to prompt the first parliamentary enquiry into immigrant detention, and this should be an aim we should aspire to. However, he noted barriers to this, such as scholars being able to carve out the time to write activist responses when they are not valued by academia (REF outputs, etc). Furthermore, there may be a critical response to activism and a question of whether and when it is right to engage in this way. Dominique Moran shared some similar concerns, reminding the audience that imprisonment is not essential – we have not imprisoned in the past as we do now. We should be encouraged to pay attention to sentencing and courts to consider why society chooses to put people in jail. These considerations should extend critically to differences between UK and US policy for example. Moran also asked that we consider the purpose of our research in the carceral setting. In her experience, the prison authorities were much more open to discussions of change, but any of this impact is hard to measure (academically) and often difficult to harness at the political level, but it is there.

It is apparent, through the quality of papers being delivered, the attendance to sessions, and the lively and energetic response to presenters and panellists that research activity in carceral geography is maintaining buoyancy within geography. As such, panellists agreed that maintaining an informal network would be beneficial to those working in this area. As such, five years after it started, this blog is going collective! This means that it will be open for anyone interested in sharing thoughts and ideas, reflections, notifications, calls for papers, etc., here, to do so. If you’re interested in participating please get in touch. Furthermore, a mail list for carceral geography has now been set up via jiscmail. You can subscribe here. For those who are familiar with CRIT-GEOG-FORUM, this mail list will work pretty much like that one. It will be archived on the jiscmail website.  So, please do subscribe to this and use it to alert other subscribers to new research, CFP, conferences, events, to start discussions, etc. It’s perhaps most useful for quick things for which you don’t want to spend the time writing a blog piece!

Finally, I’d like to extend my thanks to all presenters, discussants, panellists and audience members who all contributed to a very enjoyable and thought-provoking conference programme. I look forward to hearing more from you all in the future!

Carceral Geography at the AAG Chicago 2015 – Final Line-Ups!

Those attending the AAG in Chicago are very welcome at any or all of the seven sessions on carceral geography that will span the first and second days of the conference.

Final details are:

1141 Carceral Geographies I: Theorisations of Confinement

Tuesday 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in New Orleans, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level

8:00 AM   *Christophe Mincke – Prison: Legitimacy Through Mobility?

8:20 AM   *Elizabeth A. Brown – Care, carceral geographies, and the reconfiguration of mass incarceration

8:40 AM   *Kimberley Peters, Jennifer Turner – ‘Unlock the volume’: bringing height and depth to carceral mobilities

9:00 AM   *Stephanie Figgins – Between the Sheets of the U.S. Deportation Regime

9:20 AM   Discussant: Nick Gill

1241 Carceral Geographies II: Prison Architecture and Design

Tuesday 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in New Orleans, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level

10:00 AM   *Gideon Boie, Fie Vandamme – Prison Up Close: subject positions in the penitentiary spatial structure

10:20 AM   *Dominique Moran, Jennifer Turner, Yvonne Jewkes – Becoming big things: Building events and the architectural geographies of incarceration in England and Wales

10:40 AM   *Jennifer Turner, Dominique Moran, Yvonne Jewkes – Components of the carceral: The lived experience of prison design

11:00 AM   *Fie Vandamme, Gideon Boie – Fit IN Stand OUT: Rules and Elements for Humane Prison Architecture

11:20 AM   Discussant: Lauren Martin

1441 Carceral Geographies III: Activity, Agency and Organisation.

Tuesday 12:40 PM – 2:20 PM in New Orleans, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level

12:40 PM   session continues

1:00 PM   *Orisanmi Burton – The Politics of Containment: Prison-Based Activism in the Empire State

1:20 PM   *Lloyd Alexander Gray – How do prisoners experience and perceive the education environment within a prison? An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach

1:40 PM   *Geraldine Brown, Elizabeth Bos, Geraldine Brady, Moya Kneafsey, Martin Glynn – A holistic evaluation of delivering a community based food growing mentoring programme in a prison setting with substance misuse offenders.

2:00 PM   Discussant: Shaul Cohen

1541 Carceral Geographies IV: Gendered and Embodied Confinement.

Tuesday 2:40 PM – 4:20 PM in New Orleans, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level

2:40 PM   *Victoria Knight – Modus Vivendi: The cell, emotions, social relations and television

3:00 PM   *Jessica Bird – Segregation in Scottish Prisons: A Socio-Spatial History

3:20 PM   *William John Payne – Governmentality, performativity and sexuality – A scholarly consideration of a drag show in a prison

3:40 PM   *Rae Rosenberg, M.A – Transgender Embodiment in Carceral Space: Hypermasculinity and the US Prison Industrial Complex

4:00 PM   Discussant: Karen M. Morin

1641 Carceral Geographies V: (Re)defining Boundaries.

Tuesday 4:40 PM – 6:20 PM in New Orleans, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level

4:40 PM   Geraldine Brown,*Elizabeth Bos – We were there too: Reflexive experiences of evaluating a prison gardening intervention

5:00 PM   *Dana Cuomo – Incarceration and domestic violence: Perspectives from victims on the outside

5:20 PM   *Tony Sparks – The Asylum is on These Streets: Managing Mental Illness in the Carceral Community

5:40 PM   *Avril Maddrell – The charity shop, permeable carcarel spaces, gendered power relations, reparation and rehabilitation

6:00 PM   Discussant: Jennifer Turner

2177 Carceral Geographies VI: (Re)defining Boundaries 2

Wednesday 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Alpine 2, Swissôtel, Lucerne Level

8:00 AM   *Nathan Wolf Kahn – Public Memory, Landscape, and Historic Carcerality at the Groveland Correctional Facility

8:20 AM   *Oriane Simon – Extraordinary Rendition’s Transfers in Ambiguous Spaces

8:40 AM   *Vanessa Anne Massaro – Prison’s revolving door and the porous boundaries of carceral spaces

9:00 AM   *Stephen Averill Sherman – Why Drug-Free School Zones are Bad for Communities: Evaluating sentence enhancement zone outcomes across urban forms

9:20 AM   Discussant: Dominique Moran

2277 Carceral Geographies VII: Future Directions in Carceral Geographies

Wednesday 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Alpine 2, Swissôtel, Lucerne Level

Panelist(s): Shaul Cohen, Nick Gill, Dominique Moran, Deirdre Conlon, Jennifer Turner

New book – Historical Geographies of Prisons: Unlocking the Usable Carceral Past

HGPUUCPKaren Morin and I are delighted to announce that the new edited collection Historical Geographies of Prisons: Unlocking the Usable Carceral Past will shortly be published by Routledge.

Conceived of following Karen’s Distinguished Historical Geography lecture at the 2013 Los Angeles meeting of the Association of American Geographers, the book draws in part on papers presented in the subsequent sessions on carceral historical geographies at the Tampa AAG in 2014.

This is the first book to provide a comprehensive historical-geographical lens to the development and evolution of correctional institutions as a specific subset of carceral geographies. It analyzes and critiques global practices of incarceration, regimes of punishment, and their corresponding spaces of “corrections” from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. It examines individuals’ experiences within various regulatory regimes and spaces of punishment, and offers an interpretation of spaces of incarceration as cultural-historical artifacts. The book also analyzes the spatial-distributional geographies of incarceration, particularly with respect to their historical impact on community political-economic development and local geographies. Contributions examine a range of prison sites and the practices that take place within them to help us understand how regimes of punishment are experienced, and are constructed in different kinds of ways across space and time for very different ends. The overall aim is to help understand the legacies of carceral geographies in the present. The resonances across space and time tell a profound story of social and spatial legacies and, as such, offer important insights into the prison crisis we see in many parts of the world today.

The book will be officially launched at the 16th International Conference of Historical Geographers which will take place in London, at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) from Sunday 5th July to Friday 10th July 2015. A special panel has been convened for Thursday 9th July 2015, 14:15 – 16:00. Chapter contributors Rashad Shabazz, Kimberley Peters and Katherine Roscoe will join the book’s editors, and also Simon Naylor and Laura Cameron, the editors of the Routledge Research Series in Historical Geography, for which this is the first publication.

The book’s contents are as follows:

1 Introduction: historical geographies of prisons: unlocking the usable carceral past (Karen M. Morin and Dominique Moran)

PART I On the inside: carceral techniques in historical context

2 Carceral acoustemologies: historical geographies of sound in a Canadian prison (Katie Hemsworth)

3 The prison inside: a genealogy of solitary confinement as counter-resistance (Brett Story)

4 ‘Sores in the city’: a genealogy of the Almighty Black P. Stone Rangers (Rashad Shabazz)

PART II Prisons as artifacts in historical-cultural transition

5 Doing time-travel: performing past and present at the prison museum (Jennifer Turner and Kimberley Peters)

6 Carceral retasking and the work of historical societies at decommissioned lock-ups, jails, and prisons in Ontario (Kevin Walby and Justin Piché)

7 Prisoners in Zion: Shaker sites as foundations for later communities of incarceration (Carol Medlicott)

8 Cartographies of affects: undoing the prison in collective art by women prisoners (Susana Draper)

PART III Carceral topographies: the political economy of prison industrial growth and change

9 Locating penal transportation: punishment, space, and place c.1750 to 1900 (Clare Anderson, Carrie M. Crockett, Christian G. De Vito, Takashi Miyamoto, Kellie Moss, Katherine Roscoe, Minako Sakata)

10 Little Siberia, star of the North: the political economy of prison dreams in the Adirondacks (Jack Norton)

11 From prisons to hyperpolicing: neoliberalism, carcerality, and regulative geographies (Brian Jordan Jefferson)

12 From private to public: examining the political economy of Wisconsin’s private prison experiment (Anne Bonds)

13 Afterword (Dominique Moran)

Curious connections… design and punishment at the Tower of London

Basking in evening sunshine and thronged with tourists, the Tower of London looked anything but the forbidding fortress and feared prison that had earned it a fearsome reputation. However, thanks to the Learning team at Historic Royal Palaces, one floor up from the jewel room, a fascinating discussion evolved from the holding of ransom-worthy prisoners in the Tower – human jewels, if you will, to the architectures of confinement that characterise contemporary incarceration.

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Sally Dixon-Smith, Curator for Historic Royal Palaces at the Tower of London, opened discussion with a talk about the history of the Tower as a prison. Although not its original purpose, the Tower was pressed into service to hold up to 10,000 prisoners over hundreds of years. High-profile prisoners famously included Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth I. Sally explained that although the Tower had a fearsome reputation, prisoners could, depending on their status, expect to be accommodation in some style, with family accompanying them, and with right to hunt in the vicinity as long as a hostage was left in their place. Despite the grand surroundings, the Tower as a prison remained a place intended for the deprivation of liberty.

Following on from Sally, I was invited to speak about my research in carceral geography – how and why prisons come to be as they are, how they are experienced by those who live and work in them, and what the implications of this are for how prison systems are managed, and what they are trying to achieve. My own work has focussed on carceral spaces in very different contexts – from Russia where prisoners inhabit communal living spaces in Soviet-era buildings constructed as part of the Stalinist Gulag; to hi-tech Scandinavian prisons which are considered the most ‘humane’ carceral environments, to both new and old prisons in the UK. In each case I’m interested in the message they were intended to convey about the purpose of prison in the eyes of the imprisoning state, and the ways in which that message is conveyed to prisoners, prison staff, and the community – both locally and nationally.

Of course this changes over time, and so do prisons – and that’s why talking about these things at the Tower of London was so interesting – in a place which has changed so much through the centuries, but which is perhaps most famous for those who have been imprisoned within these walls, and indeed who sometimes met a grisly end close by.

At the time that the Tower was a prison, imprisonment as we know it today didn’t really happen – in the 16th and 17th centuries prisons were mainly places to hold people until some other form of punishment could be meted out to them. Today, prisons are considered places where people go as punishment, not for further punishment – although this is always a contentious issue in terms of what it is that prisons are supposed to achieve. There is a balance to be struck between punishment and In the run-up to the UK general election, this was a timely debate to organise.

Just as the role of imprisonment changes over time, of course it also varies from place to place – what was thought appropriate in the Soviet Union may not suit Scandinavia, or the UK. Prison systems as they exist in bricks and mortar – or stone – or steel and glass, reflect both the current philosophy of imprisonment of the ruling administration, AND the previous philosophies that were manifest in built form in the past – relics, if you will, of those ideas.

So in the UK we have Victorian prisons still operational, alongside 21st century buildings, and of course we have other buildings, like the Tower, which were pressed into service as prisons having been initially intended for some other purpose, and when these buildings come to the end of their use as prisons, they could be used for something else again. All of these buildings, and the people affected by them, have a story to tell.

That’s what I’m interested in. In a current research project, we’re looking at the processes of designing and building new prisons in the UK and Scandinavia, asking questions about how new prisons come to be as they are, why we build what we do, and how the purpose of imprisonment, conceived of within a particular political context, is translated into buildings.

We’re also asking questions about how those buildings are experienced by those who live and work in them. What does a humane prison look like? Does the building itself matter for punishment or rehabilitation? What does a therapeutic building look like? Is colour important? What about views from windows? What do we know about the ways in which people are affected by the environment in which they live? Are new prisons necessarily better than old ones? What should modern prisons look like? Who is the audience for them?

Of course prison design is about much more than just how the prison looks from the outside. There are also thorny questions about how prison architecture affects the ways in which prisons can be managed. How levels of staffing can be changed, how certain issues can be managed through the environment itself as well as through human interaction. Where prisoners spend many hours a day confined to cells, consideration is given to ways to reduce the opportunity for prisoners to harm themselves or others, removing ligature points or potential weapons.

Underpinning this research are the very same questions that shaped the debate as a whole. What is it that a prison is fundamentally trying to achieve? How might it do that through its built form? What difference does design make to achieving those outcomes? And are the prisons that we have now, and that we will have in the future, going to be effective at delivering the outcomes we want? Of course these questions go far beyond prison design – they touch on issues of public opinion, rhetoric, media campaigns and electioneering. But they are critically important questions.

The final speaker was Christopher Liddle, Chairman of HLM Architects who have been at the forefront of custodial and justice design for more than 14 years. Chris spoke passionately about the challenges of designing effective carceral environments – ones which maintain security and safety for prisoners and staff, and which also help facilitate the rehabilitation that contributes to reducing reoffending for prisoners after release. His message was that prison buildings matter very much for the outcomes that we want prisons and prisoners to have, and that through incorporating natural daylight, fresh air, views of outside spaces, especially higher-floor views over prison walls, the environment of prisons can be moulded to improve prisoner outcomes.

Facilitated by freelance historian Lauren Johnson a large audience within the Tower posed some pertinent questions about the ability of the modern penal estate to cater for deaf prisoners; the architecture of open prisons and the ways in which this facilitates reintegration into the community; the challenges of managing long-term prisoners, and the political context for the commissioning and the designing of new prisons in the UK.

Discussion was curtailed by the Ceremony of the Keys, the traditional locking up of the Tower of London which has taken place on each and every night for at least 700 years, to protect the Crown Jewels. Prisoners are no longer held at this former royal palace, and despite the pressure on the UK prison system, neither speakers nor audience members wished to revisit the Tower as a prison…

New book: “Carceral Geography: Spaces and Practices of Incarceration”

9781409452348.PPC_PPC TemplateMy new book ‘Carceral Geography: Spaces and Practices of Incarceration’ is now out with Ashgate.

The ‘punitive turn’ has brought about new ways of thinking about geography and the state, and has highlighted spaces of incarceration as a new terrain for exploration by geographers. In this book I try to offer a geographical perspective on incarceration, track the ideas, practices and engagements that have shaped the development of this new and vibrant subdiscipline, and scope out future research directions. By conveying a sense of the debates, directions, and threads within the field of carceral geography, the book traces the inner workings of this dynamic field, its synergies with criminology and prison sociology, and its likely future trajectories. Synthesizing existing work in carceral geography, and exploring the future directions it might take, it develops a notion of the ‘carceral’ as spatial, emplaced, mobile, embodied and affective.

Contents: Introduction; Origins and dialogues. Part I Carceral Space: Carceral space; The emotional and embodied geographies of prison life; Carceral TimeSpace. Part II Geographies of Carceral Systems: Geographies of carceral systems; Prison transport and disciplined mobility; Inside/outside and the contested prison boundary. Part III The Carceral and a Punitive State: The carceral and a punitive state; Prison buildings and the design of carceral space; Carceral cultural landscapes, post-prisons and the spectacle of punishment; Afterword; Bibliography; Index.

 

Carceral Geography at the AAG, Chicago IL, 2015

logo_aagCarceral Geographers attending the AAG meeting in Chicago, IL next Spring should have plenty to keep their attention. Jen Turner and Dominique Moran have put together a series of linked sessions which draw together some really exciting work and should provide plenty of scope for discussion and conversation. Join us!

Carceral Geographies I: Theorisations of Confinement

  • Christophe Mincke: Prison: Legitimacy Through Mobility?
  • Elizabeth A. Brown: Care, carceral geographies, and the reconfiguration of mass incarceration
  • Kimberley Peters: ‘Unlock the volume’: bringing height and depth to carceral mobilities
  • Stephanie Figgins: Between the Sheets of the U.S. Deportation Regime

Discussant:         Nick Gill

 

Carceral Geographies II: Prison Architecture and Design

  • Gideon Boie: Fit IN Stand OUT: Rules and Elements for Humane Prison Architecture
  • Jennifer Turner: Shaping ‘inhabitation’: the complexities of prison design and prison building
  • Dominique Moran: Prison architects as moral agents: is it possible to design a ‘healthy’ prison?
  • Fie Vandamme: Prison Up Close: the new subject of a penitentiary spatial structure

Discussant:         Lauren Martin

 

Carceral Geographies III: Activity, Agency and Organisation

  • Katie Hemsworth:”Prisoner’s Talking Blues”: Music, emotion, and spatiality in prisons
  • Orisanmi Burton: The Politics of Containment: Prison-Based Activism in the Empire State
  • Lloyd Gray: How do prisoners experience and perceive the education environment within a prison? An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach
  • Geraldine Brown: A holistic evaluation of delivering a community based food growing mentoring programme in a prison setting with substance misuse offenders.

Discussant:         Shaul Cohen

 

Carceral Geographies IV: Gendered and Embodied Confinement.

  • Victoria Knight: Modus Vivendi: The cell, emotions, social relations and television
  • Jessica Bird: Segregation in Scottish Prisons: A Socio-Spatial History
  • William Payne: Governmentality, performativity and sexuality – A scholarly consideration of a drag show in a prison
  • Rae Rosenberg: Transgender Embodiment in Carceral Space: Hypermasculinity and the US Prison Industrial Complex

Discussant:         Karen M. Morin

 

Carceral Geographies V: (Re)defining Boundaries

  • Elizabeth Bos: We were there too: Reflexive experiences of evaluating a prison gardening intervention
  • Dana Cuomo: Incarceration and domestic violence: Perspectives from victims on the outside
  • Tony Sparks: The Asylum is on These Streets: Managing Mental Illness in the Carceral Community
  • Avril Maddrell: The charity shop, permeable carcarel spaces, gendered power relations, reparation and rehabilitation

Discussant:         Jennifer Turner

 

Carceral Geographies VI: (Re)defining Boundaries 2

  • Nathan Kahn: Public Memory, Landscape, and Historic Carcerality at the Groveland Correctional Facility
  • Oriane Simon: Extraordinary Rendition’s Transfers in Ambiguous Spaces
  • Vanessa Anne Massaro: Prison’s revolving door and the porous boundaries of carceral spaces
  • Stephen Sherman: Why Drug-Free School Zones are Bad for Communities: Evaluating sentence enhancement zone outcomes across urban forms

Discussant:         Dominique Moran

 

Carceral Geographies VII: Future Directions in Carceral Geographies

Panelists:             Shaul Cohen, Nick Gill, Dominique Moran, Deirdre Conlon, Jennifer Turner

Call for Chapters: Carceral Mobilities

Call for Chapters: Carceral Mobilities

Jennifer Turner and Kimberley Peters have been invited by Routledge to submit a proposal for an edited collection on the theme of Carceral Mobilities. They would like to invite individuals to participate in the project by contributing a chapter to the collection.

If you are interested in doing so, please indicate your interest at your earliest convenience, and then submit an abstract of 250-300 words, and a proposed chapter title, by January 31st 2015.

As the sub-field of Carceral Geography continues to gain momentum, interrogating the spatialiaties of confinement, detention and imprisonment, the question of mobilities has emerged as a central concern. Whilst, as Chris Philo has recently noted (2014), carceral space may not be the most obvious lens through which to explore mobilities, movement pervades experiences and practices of incarceration. As Moran et al. (2012) contend processes of holding, restraining and imprisoning, which are so crucial to carceral regimes, assume absolute fixity for those individuals detained. Yet as these authors, and others (see Gill 2009; Moran et al. 2012; Mountz et al. 2012; Ong et al. 2014; Philo 2014) have argued, mobility is part and parcel of carcerality.  The immobilities that shape our perceptions of carceral life are, in fact, reliant on a host of mobilities (Gill 2009; Mountz et al. 2012). Moreover, even within carceral regimes – inside the prison walls, detention centres and immigration stations – mobilities occur as bodies are disciplined to move in specific ways (Philo 2014) and identities become fluid and mobilised across borders (Mountz et al. 2012). In this volume we seek to bring together a series of chapters that negotiate the complex and contested ground of carceral mobilities, highlighting the array of mobilities that shape carceral life, adding to this rich area of discussion, whilst also contributing to the burgeoning field of Mobilities studies, through using carceral space as a window of exploration.

Contributions may focus upon any aspect of the carceral:

  • Policing
  • Prisons
  • Probation
  • Immigrant detention
  • Internment
  • Detention and mental health
  • Prisoners of war
  • Abstract notions of ‘confinement’ or ‘detention’

They may include (but need not be limited to) the following areas:

  • Mobilities across boundaries and borders
  • Movements within carceral spaces
  • Architecture and the shaping of mobilities
  • Mobilities of bodies and identities
  • Mobilities of objects, and contraband
  • Transportation mobilities (carceral movements by plane, train, automobile)
  • Virtual or imaginative mobilities
  • Mobile technologies and practices (i.e. tags, curfews and probationary regimes)
  • Mobilities and carceral regulations/rules

The following timescale is anticipated for the volume. Please note this in submitting your abstract for consideration:

  • First submission of chapters to the editors required by 31st August 2015
  • Final submission of revised chapters to the editors by 31st December 2015

Jen and Kim hope that you will want to be involved in this exciting project, and if you would like to discuss this further, please contact them as follows:

jt264@leicester.ac.uk Jennifer Turner

k.peters@aber.ac.uk Kimberley Peters

 

New special issue of Geographica Helvetica on carceral geography

Jen Turner, postdoctoral researcher on the Prison Design project, has guest edited a terrific special issue of the open-access geography journal Geographica Helvetica, which will be of interest to all researching carceral spaces.

Entitled “Criminality and Carcerality Across Boundaries“, the special issue contains papers by Matt Mitchelson, Deirdre Conlon, Nancy Hiemstra, Jenna Loyd, Alison Mountz, Brett Story, Martijn Felder, Chin-Ee Ong, Claudio Minca, Elizabeth Brown, Dominique Moran and Yvonne Jewkes.

In her guest editorial, Jen encourages carceral geographers to replace the terms commonly used to describe this subdiscipline – such as  “emergent”  – with what she calls “terminology… altogether more fitting: well-established, evolutionary and/or here to stay.” If you agree, please consider completing this survey on a possible research group/working group of the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

The full contents list of the Special Issue, with weblinks looks like this:

Introduction: Criminality and carcerality across boundaries

J. Turner
Geogr. Helv., 69, 321-323, 2014
Abstract   Full Article (PDF, 32 KB)

 
The production of bedspace: prison privatization and abstract space

M. L. Mitchelson
Geogr. Helv., 69, 325-333, 2014
Abstract   Full Article (PDF, 82 KB)

 
Examining the everyday micro-economies of migrant detention in the United States

D. Conlon and N. Hiemstra
Geogr. Helv., 69, 335-344, 2014
Abstract   Full Article (PDF, 93 KB)

 
“Green” prisons: rethinking the “sustainability” of the carceral estate

D. Moran and Y. Jewkes
Geogr. Helv., 69, 345-353, 2014
Abstract   Full Article (PDF, 75 KB)

 
Alone inside: solitary confinement and the ontology of the individual in modern life

B. Story
Geogr. Helv., 69, 355-364, 2014
Abstract   Full Article (PDF, 87 KB)

 
Governing refugee space: the quasi-carceral regime of Amsterdam’s Lloyd Hotel, a German-Jewish refugee camp in the prelude to World War II

M. Felder, C. Minca, and C. E. Ong
Geogr. Helv., 69, 365-375, 2014
Abstract   Full Article (PDF, 907 KB)

 
Expanding carceral geographies: challenging mass incarceration and creating a “community orientation” towards juvenile delinquency

E. Brown
Geogr. Helv., 69, 377-388, 2014
Abstract   Full Article (PDF, 96 KB)

 
Transnational productions of remoteness: building onshore and offshore carceral regimes across borders

A. Mountz and J. Loyd
Geogr. Helv., 69, 389-398, 2014
Abstract   Full Article (PDF, 293 KB)

 

Potential Carceral Geography research group – survey

Following a series of successful sessions at recent conferences of the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers and Association of American RGS_logoGeographers, and in particular, sessions organised as part of the RGS-IBG 2014, there seems to be an interest developing in establishing some kind of formal research network around carceral geography.

One way forward could be to establish either a Research Group or a Working Group, of the RGS-IBG, (which would also be open to non-RGS-IBG members, and would also welcome colleagues from outside of the discipline of geography) and which could serve as a hub for networking and information sharing among like-minded researchers. Depending on what kind of group is established, it could also provide some funds to support postgraduates, and to arrange events.

In order to gauge potential interest, we would like to ask you to complete this survey.  

If weight of opinion is in favour of establishing some kind of group, a list of names of potential supporters/members would be needed – this is covered in the survey. Please consider adding your name to this list, whether or not you are an RGS-IBG member.

Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham)

Jennifer Turner (University of Leicester)

Anna Schliehe (University of Glasgow)