This project has two primary, interrelated, goals:

  • To develop new methodological and intellectual tools in understanding the global and transnational reach of penal power.
  • To revitalize the literature on subjectivity and identity in criminology.

It is guided by three research questions:

  • What is the relationship between penal power and national identity?
  • How is that relationship gendered?
  • What do the experiences and views of those subject to penal power tell us about (the limits and nature of) state power in a global age?

Taking the prison and the immigration detention centre as sites where local/national and global power intersect, this project will examine theoretically and empirically the ways in which people experience and negotiate such places, paying particular attention to how matters of identity, especially race, gender, national identification and their intersections, shape the experience, meaning and effects of incarceration. By placing race, gender, and citizenship at the centre of analysis of penal power, this project seeks not only to hold up to scrutiny such core explanatory concepts as legitimacy, culture and power, but also to develop an empirically grounded theoretical framework that will overcome the boundaries between macro- and micro-level sociological approaches to incarceration. In so doing the research will significantly reorient how penal power is investigated and understood.

The project itself consists of three sub-projects that together examine the relationship between identity, subjectivity and penal power in three distinct yet inter-related areas: penal theory, the contemporary prison, and the immigration detention centre: