Carceral Networks: Rethinking Region and Connecting Carceral Borders
The introduction analyzes the ways in which distinct regimes of incarceration and removal—from jails and prisons to Indian reservations and immigrant detention centers and deportation trains—have constituted what Michel Foucault has called a “carceral continuum, network and archipelago” that stretches across time, space, and region. Foucault defined this “carceral continuum” as a disciplinary network where the prison served as the core and root of carceral power but where different branches of other carceral regimes entwined. The introduction expands Foucault’s “carceral continuum” to explore how a variety of federal, state, local, and privatized institutions developed from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first. The introduction situates overlapping “carceral networks” as the core nexus that connects otherwise distinct historiographies of the American West, the Jim Crow South, and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. As a collection of essays that analyzes the intersection of carceral networks across different regions and transnationally between different nations, the introduction addresses a historiography of carceral literature that is often defined by its attachment to regional characteristics and different methodological approaches. The introduction concludes that the intersection of these carceral states may yet provide the critical lens needed to dismantle the tangled state of mass incarceration.
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