P051
Prison ethnographies, research intimacies and social change

Convenors:
Ines Hasselberg (ICS - University of Minho)
Carolina Boe (Université Paris-Descartes, Sorbonne-Cité)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
M-340
Start time:
3 August, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This panel reflects on the particular challenges of conducting anthropological studies in and of prison establishments. Paying particular attention to matters of positionality, access and personal engagement it explores the dynamics of intimacy and collaboration in prison ethnographies.

Long abstract:

This panel reflects on the particular challenges of conducting anthropological studies in and of prison establishments. Paying particular attention to matters of positionality, access and personal engagement it explores the dynamics of intimacy and collaboration in prison ethnographies. Prisons are not just spaces of confinement, they are spaces where legitimacy, punishment, justice and deprivation take expression in daily life - where such concepts are lived, experienced and contested, not just by prisoners themselves but also by others involved in their life as officers, staff and family members. Research in and of spaces of punishment is thus likely to be intense regarding sensorial and embodied experiences. Furthermore, conducting research in prison will demand not just the collaboration of the research participants themselves, but also of other entities as prison services or civil society groups. The kind of access that the researcher is granted in prison will in effect influence the engagement she will have with people within and the collaborations that are possible, necessary or even inevitable to the research process - what impact do these bear in the production of knowledge? What happens when the different actors (prisoners, staff, policymakers, civil society) work together or against one another to bring about sociopolitical change? In what ways do emotions and senses affect how prison life is perceived and embodied? How to make sense of the emotional connections and collaborations established in such contexts? We invite empirical contributions and critical discussions that address these issues from diverse standpoints and geographical contexts.