THE TOPOGRAPHIES OF AFFECT

in Ethnologia Europaea
Author:
Grete Swensen University of Oslo grete.swensen@niku.no

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Based on a critical reading of three prison protocols from 1860 to 1930, this article examines the affective quality of prisons as social spaces. Guided by concepts such as affect and embodiment, it looks closer at the ways anger, rage, and frustration were bodily expressed. In a place where silence ruled, anger and frustration were channelled through the use of material devices and bodily practices (involving breaking material devices into pieces, making noise, catching glimpses of light, communication with other prisoners via piping systems, etc.), all at the cost of longer imprisonment and reduction in meagre food rations. The soundscape experienced by insiders stands in contrast to outsiders’ views of prisons as large secluded fenced-in buildings enveloped in silence.

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