Carceral Entrapments

Views from the Prison/Street Interface in India

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology

This article focuses on three overlapping layers. First, it illustrates multiple and incoherent expressions of the prison/street nexus in India through fieldwork in prison and a para (urban neighbourhood). Second, it argues that existing categories of understanding prison/street porousness – such as a ‘deadly symbiosis’, a continuum, liminality and a carceral state – are inadequate for explaining these expressions of the prison/street nexus in India, which is framed within chaotic environments. Consequently, I argue, there is a poverty of concepts in narrating the prison/street nexus in the global south more generally, and it stems from methodological concerns. Third, the article unravels the methodological lessons from the study of imprisoned populations to examine how these may be used to narrate urban marginality. I take recourse to Lorna Rhodes’ illustration of ‘blind fields’ and ‘punctums’, to show how these may be used to disrupt conventional and hegemonic narratives of urban marginality.

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