RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2012

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66 Everyday geographies of the punitive State (1): Carceral Geography
Affiliation Political Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham, UK)
Jon Coaffee (University of Birmingham, UK)
Chair(s) Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham, UK)
Timetable Tuesday 03 July 2012, Session 4 (15:10 - 17:00)
Room David Hume Tower - Room 6.11
Session abstract This session opens a space for the discussion of the growing interest in geographies of incarceration and insecurity, broadly defined. The so-called ‘punitive turn’ has brought about new ways of thinking about geography and the state, and has highlighted spaces of incarceration and insecurity as new terrains for exploration by geographers.

Papers in this session consider ‘carceral geographies’ as a geographical perspective on incarceration, tracking the ideas, practices and engagements that have shaped the development of this new and vibrant sub-discipline. Equally papers consider how traditional conceptions of conflict and insecurity have been refined in an increasingly complex, interdependent and potentially threatening security environment leading to new modes of materiality and governmentality.

In both cases we are interested in the techniques and tactics deployed at a number of spatial scales – from control of national borders to everyday experiences of urban spaces and prison environments - which can be seen to advance an increasingly punitive approach to the functioning of the State. The session is intended to convey a sense of the debates, directions, and threads within the fields of carceral and security geographies, their synergies with criminology, sociology and political science, and their likely future trajectories.
Linked Sessions Everyday geographies of the punitive State (2): Securitization
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2012@rgs.org
Carceral Geography: Prisons, Power and Space
Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham, UK)
The so-called ‘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. This paper will discuss ‘carceral geography’ as a geographical perspective on incarceration, tracking the ideas, practices and engagements that have shaped the development of this new and vibrant sub-discipline, and suggesting future research directions which are dynamically open to transdisciplinarity, which are both informed by and extend theoretical developments in geography, but which also, and critically, interface with contemporary debates over hyperincarceration, recidivism and the advance of the punitive state. The paper will convey a sense of the debates, directions, and threads within the field of carceral geography, tracing the inner workings of this dynamic field, its synergies with criminology and prison sociology, and its likely future trajectories.
Geographic Connections and Socio-spatial Segregation in São Paulo State, Brazil
James Humberto Zomighani Jr (University of São Paulo, Brazil)
The expansion of the São Paulo prison system has increasingly involved the location of new institutions in municipalities located in remote areas, far from large urban centres and regions with higher crime statistics. This characteristic of segregation in the expansion of the prison system stems from the state government's strategies of isolating the prisoners in areas with less resistance to the construction of new prisons.

However, due to new possibilities to span spatial distance through information technology, there are new forms of connection between remote places. Thus, the use of advanced communication technologies for prisoners calls into question the ‘isolation’ of the damned, since geographic ranges and distances are re-signified by these contemporary geographical connections.
Is Empowerment Possible within Prison? Exploring the role of the discourse of empowerment in sustainable reintegration strategies
Agatha Herman (University of Plymouth)
Prison overcrowding and public sector budget cuts are making the successful social reintegration of former offenders ever more important in an increasingly pressurised UK justice system. The empowerment of prisoners – here understood as capacitating socially responsible and connected citizens – has been identified in academic literatures as a route to their successful reintegration into society but its achievement is problematic within the disciplinary prison environment. To what extent is empowerment possible within a ‘total institution’? Does the ‘empowerment’ achieved enhance the possibility of a crime-free future for offenders?

This paper based on work in progress contributes to the emerging field of ‘carceral geographies’ by combating ‘the “hiddenness” of places in which detention and confinement occur’ (Martin and Mitchelson 2009: 463). It aims to connect the everyday and wider strategic practices that govern these places through a recognition that reintegration and empowerment are grounded in specific, relational spaces. These are arenas of strong, and sometimes conflicting, imperatives – what relation does empowerment have with concerns for control, discipline, justice, rehabilitation and responsibility? Following Moran (2011), reintegration practices are positioned as liminal discursive spaces that bridge the problematic binary of inside/outside. This is used to explore the extent to which these spaces disrupt power dynamics within the prison, creating a space for offender agency within normalising environments created by both fellow offenders and the prison authorities.

Mobility, confinement and the politics of exile: Contesting colonial rule in the Indian Ocean
Uma Kothari (The University of Manchester, UK)
The British colonial government sustained its power and interests, in part, through the forcible movement and confinement of colonised people across the empire. Besides the transportation and internment of prisoners and indentured labourers, at particular moments during colonial rule attempts were made to squash anti-colonial resistance by forcibly moving political leaders from their place of origin and relocating them to other colonial sites where they were incarcerated for indefinite periods. This paper brings together considerations of mobility and confinement by exploring the exiling of anti-colonial nationalists from other parts of the empire to Seychelles during British colonial rule. From the late 1800s, the British Colonial Government exiled to Seychelles over 500 anti-colonial leaders and their followers from Egypt, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Gold Coast, Palestine and other colonies; the last political exile was Greek Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios who arrived in Seychelles in 1956. The paper begins by examining how a specific geographical imaginary of an island prison shaped colonial policies of exiling and incarceration. Seychelles was constructed as distant, remote and isolated, a place where political agitators could be safely confined and prevented from infecting others with their anti-colonial sentiments. However, as the paper goes on to show, the compulsory relocation of anti-colonial leaders to contain resistance unintentionally fostered new networks of dissent as exiles continued to mobilise against colonial control in innovative ways producing new trans-imperial connections. The very practices of confinement in exile, reveal different types of spatial flows, that ironically helped mediate and challenge the role of confinement as a form of colonial discipline. This study, on a much under-researched form of imperial mobility and confinement, contributes to debates on colonialism, space and resistance by identifying networks produced by colonised people despite being exiled and incarcerated.