2017 is a milestone year for Carceral Geography. It marks forty years after the English translation of Discipline and Punish, twenty years after Teresa Dirsuweit’s ground-breaking study of women’s incarceration in South Africa, and ten years after the publication of Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s Golden Gulag. Given the rapid development of the sub-discipline since and through these milestone publications, the intention of this conference is to recognise the founding of the CGWG in 2017 with an event which both reflects the diversity and energy of this area of research, and enables further interdisciplinary dialogue and development.
Carceral geography research is rich, diverse and multi-scalar, focusing on wider structural, political and institutional contexts as well as on everyday experiences, practices and agency; it is sensitive to change and difference across space and time, space/time, and between cultures and jurisdictions. Of particular note is the breadth of empirical focus; on spaces of ‘mainstream’ incarceration of ‘criminals’ for custodial sentences imposed by the prevailing legal system; spaces of migrant detention which confine irregular or non-status migrants pending decisions on admittance or removal; the overlaps and synergies between these spaces, their functional and post-functional lives, and also their porosity, in that techniques and technologies of confinement seep out of ‘carceral’ spaces into everyday, domestic, street, and institutional spaces. It also increasingly recognises ‘the carceral’ as spatial, emplaced, mobile, embodied and affective. A vibrant research dialogue has started to coalesce around the notion of the ‘carceral’ – asking what this term means, what it signifies, what its explanatory and critical purchase might be, and the extent to which it is anchored in or limited by its etymology in relation to the prison.