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Call for Papers – Social Geography Special Issue on “Criminality and carcerality across boundaries”

The basic idea of this Special Issue is to promote cutting-edge dialogue about links between spaces and spatialities commonly understood as ‘carceral’ (prisons, detention centers, camps, etc.) and other, often urban spaces seen to be undergoing new forms of ‘criminalisation’, for example through video surveillance, Geographic Information Systems and Crime Mapping, Predictive Policing, Environmental Crime Prevention and so on.

Scholars working in these two areas engage with related themes but often focus their empirical work on one or the other type of field site. The Special Issue is aimed at generating reflection and exchange on how themes typically considered ‘carceral’ can inform imaginations of, as well as policing and governmental projects centered upon, nominally more ‘open’ civic or public realms. Likewise, it is important to understand the ways in which urban (or rural) imaginations of civic or public space as well as spaces of economic exchange, inflect the evolution of carceral policies and practices. In general, there is increasing ‘leakage’ and an increasingly complex bundle of cultural, economic and political relations that undermines any simple distinction between the ‘carceral inside’ and the ‘public outside’. We would especially welcome theory-based submissions that draw upon a range of case studies to reflect broadly on these issues. Also welcome would be contributions touching any of the following areas:

-Carceral imaginaries in public culture

– Carceral strategies and the criminalisation of urban spaces

– Civic and citizenship ideologies in prison management

– Economic links across prison boundaries

– Historical transformations in the cultural placing of carcerality and criminality

– Innovative theorizations of boundaries between nominally carceral and civic spaces

– Theoretical arguments regarding the cross-applicability of themes between nominally carceral and civic spaces

– Reflections on the relevance of postcolonial, feminist and other theoretical frameworks for illuminating this complex

In order to facilitate timely publication, papers would need to be received for peer review by mid February 2014. Please send any proposed abstracts of no more than 200 words to myself, Jen Turner (jet08@aber.ac.uk) by November 15th 2013.

For more details about the Journal, see: http://www.social-geography.net/

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REBLOG: Jobs for Offenders: A Life Beyond the Prison ‘Home’

Read my latest Geography Directions post surrounding the politics of convicted criminals in the West Midlands being paid to work in call centres for insurance firms.

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Re-‘homing’ the ex-offender: constructing a ‘prisoner dyspora’

My latest article, available to download in Early View in Area is available here.

Abstract:

Recent work within and beyond the geography discipline has come to understand that where might be imagined a sharp boundary between the ‘hidden’ inside and outside of prisons, there is in fact a myriad of materials that cleave and bind penal geographies that mark the prison wall as a site of transaction and exchange. Recidivism in the UK is of serious concern, rendering the ‘prisoner’ a participant of a very unique and dynamic type of border exchange. In light of this, this paper questions how this impacts prisoners’ identities and attachments to ‘home’. Although ex-offenders may idealise a return to the communities where they lived prior to incarceration, the ability to re-integrate is often limited. This may be attributed to the transformations that individuals undergo while spending time in prison, such as the possession of a criminal record. In grounding this discussion in the case of a company that employs ‘ex-offenders’, I examine the implications of belonging to such a group of ‘conventional employees’ and ‘those with criminal records’; revealing tensions that complicate matters of belonging. This paper therefore posits the prison as a kind of ‘homeland’ that continues to significantly shape one’s identity following their out-migration. Those leaving prison find themselves unable to display conventional attachments to the outside society, while performing a dystopian relationship with the prison homeland, allowing for a consideration of what I have termed the ‘prisoner dyspora’.

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New book: “Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention”

New book: “Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention”.

This book draws together the work of a new community of scholars with a growing interest in carceral geography: the geographical study of practices of imprisonment and detention.

Edited by Dominique Moran, Nick Gill and Deidre Conlon, the volume features work by Lauren Martin, Matt Mitchelson, Olivier Milhaud, Bénédicte Michalon, Julie De Dardel, Nancy Hiemstra, Mason McWatters and myself.  There are also reflective pieces by Alison Mountz and Yvonne Jewkes.

It’s available for purchase via Ashgate and Amazon.

 

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New papers in carceral geography: space, privacy, affect and the carceral habitus

See Dominique Moran’s recent review of a number of emerging papers that might be of interest to people working within carceral geography:

New papers in carceral geography: space, privacy, affect and the carceral habitus.

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Digitised Dissection? – Bodies at the Prison Border

In a recent article, Vincent Kearney. BBC NI home affairs correspondent, reports how body scanners have been ruled out for prison searches in Northern Ireland after a pilot. The electronic scanners like those used in airports will not replace full body searching.  A prison service evaluation report says the scanners detected just 57% of test items, which included drugs, mobile phone batteries, scissors and a knife during a three month pilot scheme. The items not detected include a knife and scissors.

Nearly 1200 prisoners and prison staff were searched using two millimetre wave scanners. Prisoners searched using the scanners had to volunteer to be part of the process, so all of the illegal materials detected during the test were carried by prison officers who agreed to be part of the trial. The searches took place at Magilligan prison and Hydebank Wood. Dissident republicans in the high security prison at Maghaberry, near Lisburn, County Antrim, have been campaigning to have the scanners installed there as an alternative to strip-searching

But any move to introduce the technology is expected to be put on hold due to the results of the pilot scheme, which was introduced by justice minister David Ford.  Apparently, full-body searching provided a higher level of assurance because more test items were detected. Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney, has said this should not be the end of the matter. “Other people in other jurisdictions have found a way forward, everyone accepts the security of the prisons cannot be compromised, but I think in the 21st century we can find a technological replacement,” he said. The department of justice will now press ahead with plans to test another more sophisticated X-ray scanner. However, those tests cannot start until a special licence is granted because the process uses radiation and the technology has never been used in a UK prison.

The prison border is constantly under surveillance, much like the geographic boundaries of states. A 2009 article by Louise Amoore and Alexandra Hall attends to the substantial recent investments by the UK Home Office and the US Transportation Security Administration in new Backscatter X-ray scanners to screen bodies at securitised border checkpoints. Promising to make the invisible visualisable, these devices project an image of a naked body onto a screen to identify concealed ‘risk’. Contemporary security practices which seek to fix identity at the border through biometrics, datamining, and profiling—of which the ‘whole body scanner’ is part—have their genealogy in efforts in aesthetics and medical science to mine the body for certainties and reveal something of the unknown future.   These scanners present similar issues in both the border-checkpoint and the prison setting.  The scan is revealed as a simultaneous partitioning and projection, the body ‘digitally dissected’ into its component parts, from which a specific, securitised visualisation is shaped. Amoore and Hall report that, drawing on the entangled histories of ‘body knowledge’ in art, science, and anatomy—their techniques of abstraction and technologies of visualisation—we explore what light may be shed on the Backscatter scan and, more importantly, what ramifications this may have for a critical response. Challenges to the biometric border have tended to centre on surveillance, making appeals to privacy and bodily integrity. However, if border disclosures which ‘take apart’ the body are more precisely understood as visualisations, then there are more fundamental issues than recourse to rights of privacy can counteract.

For carceral geographers too, this represents more than simply surveillance.  These measures seek to further discipline bodies – in this case, the integrity of the body itself – in efforts to maintain the security of the wider institution.

Amoore L, Hall A, 2009, Taking people apart: digitised dissection and the body at the border Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27(3) 444 – 464

 

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New Geography Compass Article

Just to announce that my latest article ‘Disciplinary Engagements with Prisons, Prisoners and the Penal System’ is now available online here at Geography Compass.

This paper reviews changing contemporary approaches to geographies of incarceration, the penal system, and the institution of the prison. Firstly, it suggests a propensity to position spaces of imprisonment within thematics of containment and exclusion, which removes from consideration the particular contextual issues of reform and rehabilitation. By highlighting emerging literature within and beyond the discipline, which focuses upon both the development of the prison as a purposeful form of punishment and the complex interlinkages between prison and society, I have noted geography’s tendency to concentrate upon political economy analyses, with other disciplines providing a different register of interest. This paper concludes by calling for intervention from the repertoire of cultural geography with such things as performance, media, embodiment and spectacle, to open up the political at a more ‘personal’ level.

Feel free to contact me for a copy of the paper if you don’t have access to the journal.

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