Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: “Doing time” in carceral spaces such as jails, prisons, detention centers, or serving parole/probation, entails not only coping with life within the boundaries of confinement, but reflecting on times in the past and on possible futures. Confinement activates time and its embodiment as age(ing) or generation in ways that create new possibilities for creating or repairing life-sustaining relationships with others. The role of carceral institutions in reproducing racial, economic and gendered forms of inequality, precarity, and violence have been examined at length (Garcia 2016; Knight 2015; Fassin 2016; Wacquant 2009). Yet in an age where infants and small children are separated and held in detention centers while elsewhere prisoners in advanced old age receive palliative and hospice care, we can no longer understand the ‘carceral continuum’ without addressing questions of age as well. Age is particularly crucial when examining the tensions and ambiguities that emerge when carceral spaces are both places of punishment as well as care (Sufrin 2017).
This panel looks at various intersections of care and carceral processes as they develop and unfold across the life course. Subjects include the care of older ex-offenders in Japan; end-of-life care provided by staff, volunteers and fellow prisoners in the US; and the care of pregnant women and mothers (themselves caring for children) in Brazil; Indigenous Canadians growing up in corrections and transitioning to adulthood after; and the intersecting temporalities and embodiments of trans- imprisonment. In these diverse cases, we ask how age is construed and how it might constitute a form of “doing time” that creates not only disruptions or pauses, but also rhythms of recidivism, illness and recovery, waiting and hoping. We also ask how these various modes of “doing time” open possibilities for care and intimacy, while at other times, they obstruct or foreclose those possibilities. These lines of inquiry offer further critical perspectives not only on criminality and care, but also on the role of carceral institutions as a ‘safety net’ in contemporary societies.