The Slide of Punishment
An Anthropological Study of Postmodern Prison Governance
|Project category:||Research project|
|Organizational status:||Departmental project|
|Project time frame:||Project commences: 2010
Project ends: 2012
|Project language(s):||English; Spanish|
|Structure:||Anthropology of Prisons|
- Dr. Álvaro Rodríguez Céspedes, M.A. Social Anthropology (bis/until 04/2012)
Developing an interdisciplinary approach between criminology, social control theories and critical anthropology, the project proposes to establish a theoretical framework for the analysis of current punitive transformation in Western societies. In this framework, the project investigates the rationality and mechanisms of a “new” model of penal management in the Spanish prison system. This model has been conceptualized by the researcher as Therapeutic Governance. It serves to analyze the biopolitical strategies, disciplinary actions and rhetoric orders through which the prison is allowed to legitimate a new control regime in the postmodern era and enables important questions of contemporary governance to be addressed. Assuming that prison governance is significant for society as a whole, the research will analyze control technologies exerted in prison spaces and how they slide into public dynamics through different agencies. Consequently another concept, the Punitive Agora, will be developed.
The project has two interwoven objectives. First, it will pursue ethnographic fieldwork in order to produce data about the technical and symbolic devices introduced by Therapeutic Governance in the Spanish prison environment. Second, applying the two new concepts, the project will discuss from the biopolitical perspective, the emergence of a kind of power which opens to the global mobilization of life.
The general objective has two interwoven aspects. First, to develop an ethnographic and interdisciplinary study analyzing the morphology, intensity and effects of the Therapeutic intervention in the Spanish prison system in order to identify its agents, technical and institutional devices and codes. Second, applying a comparative perspective, the aim is to elaborate on a profound theoretical framework regarding Therapeutic Governance and Punitive Agora as two crucial concepts to contribute to the international debate about the creation of an inter-sectoral and cross-cultural penal net in Europe.
- Theoretical elaboration of Therapeutic Governance and Punitive Agora from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective in order to contribute to elucidate what kind of relationships exist between inside and outside the prison.
- Describe the main devices of Therapeutic Governance from an inter-sectoral perspective: inmates, family, guards, social workers and researchers.
- Describe the agencies of the Punitive Agora through an analysis of the external effects that imprisonment has on the inmates, their families and their social environment.
- Beyond its scientific achievements, the project aims at improving public knowledge about the contemporary prison and forms of prison management. Thus, it will – on the basis of recognition of the prisoner's civil rights, respect for their cultural diversity and restitution of their personal dignity – contribute to an improvement of the situation of prisoners and ex-prisoners.
- The development of the theoretical framework: A thorough bibliographical revision and theoretical discussion in the field of current critical criminology, prison anthropology and sociology will be conducted in order to build a sound theoretical and methodological framework for the concept Therapeutic Governance and to obtain a preliminary approach to the concept of the Punitive Agora.
- Qualitative study and in-depth strategy: Intensive field research to produce qualitative information will take place. This ethnographic level tackles the direct knowledge of the (institutional, social and individual) practices and strategies applied inside the therapeutic modules in order to manage diversity, conflict and violence. It includes an investigation of the programs and mechanisms through which governmental and non-governmental agencies try to resocialize and reinsert the correctional population. At this stage the research will involve the everyday life of the prison, the rehabilitation and social reinsertion programs, the technical and educational workshops and therapeutic groups outside the prison.
- Archeological and genealogical analysis: Once the thematic groups have been set up, the investigation of biographic events will be initiated. This shall enable an in-depth investigation of the origins, educational levels, economic activities and the cultural and political correlates of the individual. At this stage, qualitative techniques of investigation will be applied in order to produce an archive of experiences and memories. A comparative strategy will be applied: the results of the ethnographic fieldwork will be contrasted with similar ethnographies produced in Germany and several other European countries.
- Interdisciplinary and integration phase: Once the archive of experiences and memories has been created and contrasted, the final stage of research will begin: an interdisciplinary analysis and the framing of conclusions. Conducting an interdisciplinary analysis of the information gained during the fieldwork, the analytical concepts of Therapeutic Governance and the Punitive Agora will be thoroughly constructed and discussed.
The project was funded from 01-01-10 to 31-12-12 by the European Community, FP 7, Marie Curie Action, Intra-European Fellowship (IEF).
- Garreaud, Álvaro: Das post-panoptische Gefängnis. In: Catalogue of the exposition: Knast sind immer die anderen, NGBK, Berlín 2009.
- Garreaud, Álvaro / Malventi, Dario: Curar y reinsertar. El fenómeno de la deslocalización terapéutica en el engranaje penitenciario (Cure and social rehabilitation: The phenomenon of therapeutic slide within the penal system). In: Espai en Blanc Journal: La Sociedad terapéutica. Materiales para la subversión de la vida, Nº 3-4, Ediciones Bellaterra, Barcelona, p. 72 - 88, 2008.
- Garreaud, Álvaro / Malventi, Dario: Teatro del asedio. Una escena corporal de la prisión (The theater of siege. An corporal scene of the prison). In: Espai en Blanc Journal: Materiales para la subversión de la vida, 2006, Issue⁄Volume N°1-2, p. 251 - 261.