chapter  12
16 Pages

Penal Space and Privacy in French and Russian Prisons

ByOlivier Milhaud, Dominique Moran

The work of Foucault (1979) has heavily influenced the work of geographers engaging with carceral space. Self-surveillance as the mechanism through which disciplinary power operates to produce ‘docile’ bodies has been challenged by Foucault himself through the importance of immanent resistance in any governmental framework (1991), and by all those who argue for the significance of prisoner agency; that socialization mitigates the effect of biopower, that prisoners ‘perform’ docility rather than interiorizing it, and who identify the mediating importance of penal space in the operation of biopower (Dirsuweit 1999, Vaz and Bruno 2003, Baer 2005, Simon 2005, Sibley and Van Hoven 2009). Based on their study of dormitory confinement in a New Mexico prison, Sibley and Van Hoven (2009) in particular call for more detailed empirical analysis of the experience of penal space by inmates, to further explore the ways in which prisoners respond to constant surveillance in the penal setting. Understandings of carceral space are key to the current development of carceral geography. However, relatively little attention has been paid to the different types of organization of space within prison walls and their effect on inmates’ agency.