Carceral Geography comes to Liverpool

Post by Dr Jennifer Turner

Human Geography at Liverpool has a strong reputation for the study of socio-spatial exclusion, inequality, geographies of the life-course and developing understandings of moving, mobile populations. As a new Lecturer in Human Geography, I’ve been excited to join this vibrant department, bringing to it, a further way of thinking about those themes – through the study of so-called ‘carceral’ life – or, in layman’s terms, thinking about the geographies of places of imprisonment, detainment or confinement and the people who are involved with these spaces.

My research focuses upon spaces and practices of incarceration, past and present. Most recently, I have interrogated prison architecture, design, technology and their potential to impact upon rehabilitation. Other interests include penal tourism, articulations of the prison boundary and conceptualisations of carceral space. My work has been published widely in the fields of carceral geography and criminology.  Please see my website for further details.

I’ll be bringing this specialism to Liverpool through a variety of teaching at undergraduate level and postgraduate level, including the modules ENVS385 Issues in Geography and ENVS434 Space, Power and Culture.

Here will be will thinking about a range of themes; some covered in a new book entitled Carceral Mobilities: Interrogating Movement in Incarceration just published with another Liverpool geographer, Dr Kimberley Peters.

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The book has been an exciting, cross disciplinary project. At first glance, the words ‘carceral’ and ‘mobilities’ seem to sit uneasily together. Yet, through its introduction and 17 chapters, the book challenges the assumption that carceral life is characterised by a lack of movement; and that mobilities scholars may find no obvious interest in supposed spaces of confinement and stasis – the prison, camp or asylum centre. Identifying and unpicking the manifold mobilities that shape (and are shaped by) carceral regimes, the book brings together contributions that speak to contemporary debates across carceral studies and mobilities research, offering fresh insights to both areas of concern. It features four sections that move the reader through the varying typologies of motion underscoring carceral life: tension; circulation; distribution; and transition. Each mobilities-led section seeks to explore the politics encapsulated in specific regimes of carceral movement.

It is now argued that mobilities research is ‘centre stage’ in the social sciences with wide-ranging work that considers the politics underscoring the movements of people and objects. From studies that examine technologies of motion, to the infrastructures that enable/disable mobility; and from investigations of the subjects made mobile or immobile by regimes of regulation, to the materialities that shape and are shaped by mobilities, what this turn has come to achieve is a critical consideration a world that is ever ‘on the move’. This book, however, offers a fresh perspective on these questions, exploring mobilities through a carceral lens.

Featuring contributions from leading academics working in the field of carceral studies and mobilities research (as well as a strong selection of chapters from emerging scholars, freelance writers and social workers), the book brings together timely discussions in one collection, which will appeal to wide, cross-disciplinary audiences, contributing firmly to current conceptual debates shaping the social sciences. Indeed, drawing on a range of international examples (from the UK, Europe, Australia, South-East Asia, North and South America), the book offers an authoritative, global collection on the theme of carceral mobilities, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including Criminology, Sociology, History, Cultural Theory, Human Geography and Urban Planning. A foreword and afterword will be provided by established figures in carceral geography (Dr Dominique Moran) and mobilities studies (Professor Peter Merriman), also illuminates how understandings of ‘carcerality’ and ‘mobility’ can each inform the other.  The book therefore offers a first port of call for those examining spaces of detention, asylum, imprisonment and containment, who are increasingly interested in questions of movement in relation to the management, control, and confinement of populations.

You’ll be able to access this in the library soon!

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New Paper – Low immigrant mortality in England and Wales: a data artefact?

Guest Post by Matthew Wallace

SSM_Front_Cover

Last week, I published a paper in Social Science & Medicine examining mortality among the major immigrant groups in England and Wales over a thirty year period from 1971 to 2001. While recent national media focus has fixated firmly on the fiscal cost of ‘health tourism’ – Migrants to face emergency NHS charges” (BBC), End of free NHS care for migrants under new bill” (Telegraph), Tough rules to stop health tourists” (Daily Mail) – there has been little focus on the health of immigrants who actually live in England and Wales. The health and mortality of these groups is of substantial interest to policy-makers. Evidence suggests inequalities in health by ethnicity and country of birth, but there has been insufficient consideration of the importance of country of origin and length of residence in the United Kingdom.

In short, results from the paper show low mortality (compared to non-migrants in England and Wales) for individuals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Western Europe, China and group Other Asia. Analysis also shows that this low mortality begins converging to native levels over time – though low mortality persists for some groups at old ages. As to why we see these patterns, low mortality among first-generation immigrants provides evidence of a ‘healthy migrant effect’ whereby individuals initially ‘select’ for good health and the personality traits often associated with a successful migration (ambition, social adeptness and risk-resilience). This good health and low mortality then wears off over time as individuals ‘acculturate’ or adopt the unfavourable habits and behaviours of the host society.

There are of course many additional dimensions to the research which I do not cover here. If you would like to read the discussion in full, the paper is available online through journal Social Science & Medicine or alternatively, at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Matthew_Wallace3. If there is anything you would like to discuss, please feel free to email me at m.wallace@liverpool.ac.uk. The paper was co-authored with Dr Hill Kulu; the research was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [ES/J500094/1] with permission from the Office for National Statistics. The next step of my research is to study the mortality of second generation migrants in England and Wales. Previous research suggests that this group do not share the low mortality of their parents and may actually have a higher mortality risk than natives.

New article in Nature: Delayed buildup of Arctic ice sheets during 400 kyr minima in insolation variability

On the Chinese Loess Plateau

Post by Prof. Frank Oldfield

A new article in the highly regarded journal Nature is available online co-authored by myself and another honorary research fellow in Geography at University of Liverpool, Jan Bloemendal.

The article is titled: “Delayed buildup of Arctic ice sheets during 400 kyr minima in insolation variability

Although the paper is mainly about the rather remote past, it has likely implications for the future. Major, long-term shifts in climate are driven by changes in the Earth’s orbit. At present, the orbital configuration closely matches that almost four hundred thousand years ago. What we can learn about that past time may therefore provide some insight into future climate change. Research on the Chinese Loess Plateau (see photo) shows that under the conditions prevailing then, there was a delay of up to twenty thousand years in the build up of northern hemisphere ice sheets after the end of the interglacial as conventionally defined. Even without the increasing concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, this implies a likely extension of relatively mild, non-glacial conditions in the northern hemisphere well beyond the currently predicted end of our ‘Holocene’ interglacial. It also provides a possible new framework within which to model the interactions between human-induced atmospheric changes and natural variability in order to assess the future evolution of our climate.

Full article details:

Hao, Q., Wang L., Oldfield F., Peng Z.,, Qin,L., Song, Y., Xu, B., Qiao, X., Bloemendal, J. and  Guo, Z. 2012. Delayed buildup of Arctic ice sheets during 400 kyr minima in insolation variability Nature doi:10.1038/nature11493.