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Rethinking Imprisonment: The Life-World of the Incarcerated

Rethinking Imprisonment: The Life-World of the Incarcerated

Chapter:
(p.162) 10 Rethinking Imprisonment: The Life-World of the Incarcerated
Source:
The Distressed Body
Author(s):
Drew Leder
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226396248.003.0011

This chapter uses phenomenological tools to show how long-term imprisonment constricts, disrupts, and fragments lived time and space and one’s experience of embodiment. Yet the prisoner is not passive in all this. He or she constructs strategies of creative response. Working with recorded dialogues from a philosophy class taught in a maximum-security prison, the chapter traces out two such inmate strategies respectively called escape and reclamation. Escape-mode involves imaginatively flying beyond the constraints of prison. Reclamation involves working with these harsh conditions in such a way that one can reclaim a positive relationship to space, time and one’s body even while incarcerated. There is also an integrative approach that combines elements of both—examples are provided from the prisoner’s accounts. The resilience of prisoners is compared to others who face sexual and racial discrimination, or who suffer from chronic illness. Even in situations of severe restriction the human being retains some freedom and responsibility – that is the ability to respond.

Keywords:   phenomenology, imprisonment, embodiment, philosophy, escape, reclamation, discrimination, illness, race, space

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