Globalization Lectures

Draft: Lecture 8 (spring semester). Penal and migratory immobilities

Prisons, like refugee camps and immigration detention facilities, are peculiar institutions that function at one end of a continuum of social and physical mobility and immobility. The prison works to forcibly confine and isolate prisoners from the wider community, and then employs regimented and authoritarian regimes and architecture to further confine their mobility inside the prison.

 

 

For example:

  • Aboriginal youths arrested in regional Australia
  • Rejected asylum seekers incarcerated in the UK;
  • English sink estate residents incarcerated for involvement in the informal economy, including drugs

 

In the first example a typical trajectory involves conflict and poverty and irregular international migration, the conviction of the non-resident for a poverty-related crime, forced stasis through imprisonment and detention, and then forced deportation. This confined territorial circulation is also confined social mobility: the escape from insecurity and poverty promised through emigration or lowers the migrant to the status of criminal and then returns her to increasingly impoverished conditions.

Many of the people in English prisons come from sink estates marked by sustained poverty, and unemployment, often in former manufacturing and mining conurbations. These communities often comprise post-war immigrants from former colonies, new groups of asylum-seeking immigrants, and static British residents. The first two groups experience postcolonial and globalised displacement before entrenched stasis in the estate.  In the latter (English resident) aspect, there is a displacement from the habitas of manufacturing or mining, prior to entrenched stasis and social immobility.[1] In this regard there is a partial similarity with the confinements of Aboriginal people (refugees from the land they still inhabit). These multicultural communities circulate between the welfare, justice and penal systems and the informal economy.

 

[1] Simon Charlesworth, A Phenomenology of Working Class Experience, 2000. Charlesworth’s study of a working class community in Rotherham shows that the disappearance of traditional work and its way of life changes resident’s sense of place and ontological security so that those reliant on precarious and poorly paid labour come to be seen and experience themselves as ‘aliens among their own species’ 9.

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