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Incarceration and Society: From the Colonial Period to Its Postcolonial Legacies – until November 30, 2021

Editors: Diana Andringa, Júlia Garraio

Deadline for submission: November 30, 2021

Keywords: incarceration, colonialism, racism, discrimination, repression.

  • 1 Mills, Charles (1997), The Racial Contract. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

Colonial empires and the transatlantic trade created, in different geographic areas, a system of power based on white supremacy in all spheres of society and on the concomitant relegation of indigenous peoples, black populations and non-white minorities to marginalized and subordinate social places (Mills, 1997).1

  • 2 Stemen, Don (2017), The Prison Paradox: More Incarceration Will Not Make Us Safer. Retrieved from L (...)
  • 3 Alexander, Michelle (2010), The New Jim Crow. Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New (...)
  • 4 Amparo Alves, Jaime (2018), The Anti-Black City. Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil. Univ (...)

Among these places the prison stands out. Extensive research over the last decades has not only exposed how incarceration systems were key elements in the imposition and maintenance of the power of colonial empires and their ethnic-racial hierarchies, but also explored how these historical experiences are essential to understand contemporary legal and prison practices and their relationship with structural racism. The ethnic-racial dimension of contemporary incarceration has been examined in depth in the North American context. The United States of America (USA), where over the last few decades there has been a disproportional rise in the levels of incarceration, mostly of non-white youth (Stemen, 2017),2 is a paradigmatic case of how the current “prison industrial system” maintains a seminal relationship with the country’s racist, colonial and slavocratic past (Alexander 2010).3 Brazil, too, with its over-representation of non-white youth in prisons, exemplifies how colonial legacies are essential for understanding the racial violence and discrimination of the present (Amparo Alves, 2018).4

In the USA and Latin American countries, where independence was gained through the efforts of their colonizers’ direct descendants, racial discrimination prolonged almost “naturally” and straightforwardly social patterns from the slavery period. But in Europe, and specifically in Portugal, there was a clear temporal gap between the period of public visibility of Blacks trafficked in the context of slavery and the present. From the second half of the 20th century onwards, populations from colonized countries, as immigrants and their descendants, have gained increasing visibility not only as othered bodies against which racist nativist projects are reinvented, but also as subjects who demand full citizenship in the social fabric where they belong to and who challenge colonial legacies in national narratives.

The role of colonialism in the incarceration practices of contemporary Portugal corresponds to an area of research that remains largely unexplored. Portugal is one of the countries in Europe with the lowest crime rates; however, its rates of incarceration hover above average, revealing a problem of overcrowding, which in some cases reaches 200%. Portuguese law prohibits the ethnic or racial profiling of the country’s prison population, making it difficult to visualise, through statistical data, to what extent Portugal’s judicial and prison system may be permeated by racial discrimination. Simple observation, however, points to a percentage of black and Roma inmates well above each group’s share of the general population.

The particularities of the various spaces affected by colonialism, both in the metropolises and in the colonized countries, indicate indeed colonialism and its legacies as the fundamental transversal macrostructure for the various configurations of the current systems of incarceration around the world. See, for instance, how insularity, a very common practice in colonial empires, has been being updated and reinforced in the 21st century into new technologies, sanctioned by new consensus built around security discourses: from the design and enforcement of prison-islands for asylum seekers and refugees, the development of buffer-spaces (such as in Turkey, by the European Union) to “war on terror” spaces like the USA’s Guantanamo Bay prison (Cuba), where regimes of exception are used to suspend domestic and international law.

This thematic issue of the journal e-cadernos CES aims to probe and explore the theme of “Incarceration and Society” through an interdisciplinary and transnational approach that strives to inscribing it in the spaces marked by European colonialism and its legacies. It welcomes contributions from a range of research areas and disciplines, such as history, sociology, religion, arts and humanities; favoring intersectional approaches that cross issues of gender, class, ethnicity, race, religion and nationality.

e-cadernos CES is a peer-reviewed, online and entirely open access journal, published by the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra (Portugal). The journal is currently indexed in CAPES, DOAJ, EBSCO, ERIH Plus and Latindex. For more information about this publication see https://journals.openedition.org/eces/?lang=en.

Texts should be presented in final version, in Portuguese, English, Spanish, or French. Manuscripts must be originals and not exceed 60,000 characters (with spaces), including notes and references. For the final section @cetera, other manuscripts may be submitted (up to 35,000 characters), such as interviews and discussions (up to 25,000 characters) or book reviews (up to 5,000 characters). The submitted manuscripts must not have been otherwise published in full or in part (in both print or digital format, in Portugal or abroad, in Portuguese or in any other language), or be presently under submission to any other publication.

Detailed guidelines for submitting texts are available at https://journals.openedition.org/eces/805. Manuscripts should be sent by email to e-cadernos@ces.uc.pt and authors should clearly identify the thematic issue in question – “Incarceration and Society”.

All manuscripts will go through a double-blind peer review process.

Notas

1 Mills, Charles (1997), The Racial Contract. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

2 Stemen, Don (2017), The Prison Paradox: More Incarceration Will Not Make Us Safer. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, Criminal Justice & Criminology: Faculty Publications & Other Works.

3 Alexander, Michelle (2010), The New Jim Crow. Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New Press.

4 Amparo Alves, Jaime (2018), The Anti-Black City. Police Terror and Black Urban Life in Brazil. University of Minnesota Press.

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