On Thursday 23 March, Professor Yvonne Jewkes (University of Brighton) presents "The modern architecture of incarceration: from spectacular statement of sovereign power to (an)aesthetic symbol of public indifference"
Drawing on data from a three-year ESRC-funded research study, this lecture will argue that the prison is a mimesis of its specific social, political and economic context. As early as 1789 prison reformer John Howard described the ‘pompous fronts’ and palatial proportions of the prisons being conceived and constructed in that era. More than simply impressive feats of engineering, the spectacular, but frankly unnecessary, embellishments that adorned 18th and 19th century gaolhouses can be viewed as an aesthetic coding, subtly transforming the prison into a challenging, potent presence in the community and a rousing, sensate experience for those who lived within and without it. In more recent times, however, the (an)aesthetics of imprisonment have reformed and rationalized the delivery of punishment, exemplifying the actuarial preoccupations of the ‘new penology’. The new dystopian vernacular that has emerged is one of over-securitization and surveillance; but it is also characterized by similitude, blandness and indifference. As Augé (1995) might have it, prisons have become ‘non-places’ for ‘non-people’.
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