Cfp: AAA 2014 panel – Discipline, Care and Punish? Anthropological Approaches to Suffering and Well-Being across the Carceral Continuum

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to encourage submissions for a AAA 2014 panel entitled “Discipline, Care and Punish? Anthropological Approaches to Suffering and Well-Being across the Carceral Continuum.”

Organized by Kimberly Sue (Harvard University); Carolyn Sufrin (UCSF); Nick Iacobelli (University of Pennsylvania)

Discussant: Philippe Bourgois (University of Pennsylvania)

Can institutions of punishment and confinement be spaces of care and healing? In the current US era of mass incarceration–with over 1 in 100 people behind bars–and the failures of the social safety net, prisons and jails have become increasingly central providers of medical, psychiatric and addiction care for the poor, socially marginalized and the structurally vulnerable–“the sick, the mad, and the bad.” Ethnographic approaches to the practice of medicine in settings of poverty, deprivation and bureaucratic constraints can
illuminate what is at stake for not only people who pass through these spaces but also for governance itself, new regimes of caring (or lack thereof), and how moral modes of social control become embodied.
Symptoms of affliction and distress in prisons and after incarceration can take many forms, from fighting to self-mutilation to consumption of substances, often reflecting ongoing trauma, a lack of access to healthcare in the community, and the unique stressors of incarceration itself.

So what does it mean to be healthy, well or flourishing in these places of structural violence that have deprivation of liberty at their core, that seek to inflict trauma as a form of punishment in the name of deterrence? How do treatment providers enact the seemingly contradictory mandates to contain and cure? How do local actors conceive of their at-times conflicting duties and obligations, especially as sites of control shift to neoliberal models of privatization, cost containment and attendant notions of one’s moral
obligation to transform and care for the self? To what extent is compassionate and humane care-giving possible in a setting characterized by structural and symbolic violence, and what forms might it take?

We seek papers that ethnographically explore the everyday realities of these dilemmas of co-existing care and punishment within institutions of incarceration and along the carceral continuum. We welcome contributions from broad range of geographic and institutional settings, including those outside the US context.

Send abstracts of approximately 250 words to Kimberly Sue ( by April 1, 2014

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