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|Closed circuits : kinship, neighborhood and incarceration in urban Portugal
|Cunha, Manuela Ivone P. da
|SAGE Publications Ltd
|"Ethnography". ISSN 1466-1381.9:3 (2008) 325-350.
|The notion that prisons are a ‘world apart’, with their walls severing prisoners from their external relationships, and incarceration an interruption, ‘time away’ spent in a separate social universe, has provided an adequate framework for understanding the social realities of imprisonment in the past. But it has also created an analytical dead angle that prevents us from identifying the ramifying social effects of concentrated incarceration upon both the prison and heavily penalized lower-class neighborhoods. This article addresses these effects with data from an ethnographic revisit of a major women’s prison in Portugal, where the recomposition of the inmate population that has accompanied the rapid inflation of the country’s carceral population is especially pronounced and entails the activation of wide-ranging carceralized networks bringing kinship and neighborhood into the prison as well as the prison into the domestic world. The analysis focuses on the ways whereby these constellations have transformed the experience of confinement and the texture of correctional life, calling for a reconsideration of the theoretical status of the prison as a ‘total institution’ and for exploring anew the boundary that separates it (or not) from outside worlds.
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