Friday, August 4, 2023 - 12:00 to 13:30
Hybrid (in-person and via Teams)
CCLJ Seminar: Sensing the Carceral State
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This hybrid seminar hosted by the UNSW Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ) will take place in person at the UNSW Law & Justice Building (Boardroom, Level 2) and online via Teams. Please indicate your attendance preference on checkout.

In this seminar, Emma and Poppy map out the conceptual framework for their current book project, ‘Sensing the Carceral State’, and share preliminary analyses from two working chapters. The book seeks to develop a multidisciplinary, anti-carceral and decolonial framework to understand how space and the senses are integral to the organised violence and contemporary transformations of the carceral state. Experimenting with creative methodologies, the chapters of the book examine a range of different sites and practices through the lenses of space and the sensory, including racialised policing, prison construction, and resistance to the mobile border.


The Making of Prison Land – Emma Russell

This talk focuses on the multiple, layered histories of the Ravenhall Prisons Precinct on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung land, in the outer western suburbs of Melbourne. Combining field visits with documentary analysis of the official administrative process of prison land-making, I explore how localised contexts are embedded in global networks of capitalist accumulation and production, in which prisoners becomes commodities and endangered species become impediments to carceral development. To build this analysis, I examine practices of surveillance and quantification of ecosystems that form part of the biodiversity ‘offset management plan’ for the Ravenhall Correctional Centre, the third prison sited in the precinct, which opened in 2017. I consider how the bureaucratic management of non-human animal and plant species on the Ravenhall site is underpinned by colonial and economic rationalist paradigms of conservation (Corson and Campbell, 2023; Fletcher et al., 2021) that both enable and constrain the production of prison lands. By combining insights from carceral-abolition (Gilmore, 2022) and ‘more-than-human’ geographies (Margulies, 2023), I show how attending to both the living and nonliving qualities of prisonscapes can reveal additional ‘valences’ of violence that accompany a prison’s imposition on the landscape.

The Curative-Carceral Boundary – Poppy de Souza

In this talk, I present a sensory and situated analysis of the Boggo Road Priority Development Area (PDA) in Meanjin (Brisbane), part of the Queensland government’s Cross-River Rail urban redevelopment and major infrastructure project. The site, covering around 39 hectares, consists of three main precincts: the Boggo Road ‘Urban Village’, including the heritage listed Boggo Road Gaol; an intersecting rail corridor; and the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH). Historically, the site maps on to what I term a ‘curative-carceral boundary’—parcels of land first expropriated by the colonial administration and reserved for a prison, an orphanage, and asylum at Dutton Park to contain disposable ‘surplus’ populations and which displaced Aboriginal encampments (Kerkove, 2018) to enable settle-colonial expansion. I mobilise affective theories of haunting and presence, combined with reflections on a soundwalk and multiple map(ing)s of the site, to suggest that while infrastructures of ‘care’, ‘cure’ and ‘correction’ have changed in function or have since been demolished, their spatial proximity, entangled histories and contested futures continue to reverberate in and unsettle the present.

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