Rural Prison Expansion and the Normalization of Mass Incarceration

Speaker / Presenter: 

Alison Kanosky Postdoctoral Fellow, Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative
Tuesday, October 20, 2015 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Williams Hall, Room 70

William R. Scott Brown Bag Series

Starting in the 1980s, states in the U.S. began dramatically expanding their prison infrastructure. By 2000, the number of state prisons in the U.S. had almost doubled. The majority of the prisons constructed during this period were built in rural communities. This talk draws from ethnographic research in a rural, predominantly white community in Illinois where a maximum security state prison was built in 2001, and has been sitting virtually vacant ever since. I analyze how residents in this community went from being initially opposed to the prison to being nearly unanimous in support of its opening. Through this field site, I examine how communities become invested in prison infrastructure, and how mass incarceration becomes normalized on the ground.  
Alison Kanosky is a new postdoctoral fellow with the Mellon Digital Humanities Initiative. Alison studies social and economic change in the U.S. through ethnographic, historical and spatial analysis. Her dissertation, "Living in the Security State: Defense, Incarceration and Community Destabilization," analyzed the impacts of a military installation and a prison on a rural Midwestern community, focusing on how residents understand and respond to state power. Her Ph.D. from Yale University in American Studies will be conferred in December 2015. Alison is the former Associate Editor for Historian’s Eye.
Bring your own lunch. Dessert and beverages provided.