Accepted Paper:

Embodying prison  

Author:

Manuela Cunha (Universidade do Minho, CRIA-UMinho)

Paper short abstract:

How does the experience of confinement become inscribed on the body and the senses? Mediated by social relations, this experience is highly contextual and varies not only according to prison-specific circumstances, but also with social-specific circumstances

Paper long abstract:

Despite their variable 'normalization' in several aspects, prisons remain anomalous sites in that, by definition, they hinder movement and constrain bodies. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in a Portuguese women's prison in two different decades, I will examine how the experience of penal confinement inscribes itself on the body and the senses, and how this experience is mediated by social relations. More specifically, I will describe how a coherence between the social and the sensorial orders emerged in both periods. Given that hyperincarceration produced a major sociological change between these periods, this coherence means that the bodily experience of confinement - or the way prisoners "embody" prison and make sense of it - is highly contextual and may vary not only according to prison-specific circumstances, but also with social-specific circumstances. Contrasting ideas of contagion, changing experiences of sounds and smells, and individual and para-collective expressions of distress, will be some of the aspects approached.

Panel MB-AMS03
Life in movement: becomings of the bodies