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We Are Not SlavesState Violence, Coerced Labor, and Prisoners' Rights in Postwar America$
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Robert T. Chase

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653570

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653570.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

A Fine Southern Plantation

A Fine Southern Plantation

Perfecting Prison Slave Labor as the Agribusiness Model

(p.60) Chapter 2 A Fine Southern Plantation
We Are Not Slaves

Robert T. Chase

University of North Carolina Press

The second chapter offers an analysis of how the reforms refashioned prison labor as the new tool of disciplinary control and racial hierarchy within a Jim Crow framework. When this new system was fully operational in the 1960s, Texas garnered plaudits as a pioneering, modern, efficient, and business-oriented enterprise as a modernization narrative. What fuelled the modernization narrative, however, was coerced field labor and a regime of labor division that prioritized prisoners through gender, racial, and sexual power. By moving beyond control penology’s external modernization narrative and dissecting how prison labor disciplined, ordered, and controlled every aspect of southern incarceration, this chapter shows how incarceration on the Texas prison plantation rendered Black, Brown, and even white bodies as slave labor where the state relegated prisoners to coerced and entirely unpaid labor, daily acts of bodily degradation, and the perpetual denial of civil and human rights. As an analysis of prison labor as carceral power, chapter two also analyzes how prisoners carved out hidden transcripts of resistance and survival that constructed a dissident culture and infrapolitics to trouble the southern modernization narrative.

Keywords:   Prison Labor, Labor Division, Control Penology, Modernization Narrative, Racial privilege, Infrapolitics, Dissident Culture, State Violence, Prison Worksongs, House Boys

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