This panel examines the place of non-penal spaces of confinement, where social, economic and political control is exercised. It probes the suppression of "dangerous classes" by political authorities, and highlights the geographies of control linking incarceration in cities and in rural areas.
In 1946, the Asantehene and nine other royals sent a letter to a British colonial officer in charge of administering the Asante Territories in the Gold Coast. The Asante royals complained of vagrants roaming the streets of the zongo, immigrant quarters in their kingdom's capital, Kumasi. These vagrant strangers were allegedly responsible for the death of two children, and the petitioners insisted that these 'foreign lunatics' be sent to the psychiatric asylum in Accra. For the royals, lunacy was tied to questions of urban non-belonging. They used the British-run colonial asylum to rid Kumasi of those immigrants from rural regions of French West African colonies, who had no kin to house or care for them. This panel examines the place of non-penal spaces of confinement, where social, cultural, economic and political control is exercised, like psychiatric hospitals, sleeping sickness villages, leproseries, youth camps and labour camps, in processes of social and economic stratification and in the demarcation of urban-rural distinctions. Taking five histories of non-penal spaces of confinement in Africa since the 18th century as a point of departure, we ask: 1. How have confinement practices evolved and adapted to changes in urban-rural migration? 2. How have actors - historically and in the present - deployed institutions of confinement to manage changing socio-cultural conditions? By engaging a diversity of institutions of confinement this panel probes the suppression of "dangerous classes" by political authorities, and highlights the geographies of control linking incarceration in cities and in rural areas.