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Title: Embodying punishment : an investigation into the corporeal identities of women prisoners in England
Author: Chamberlen, Anastasia
ISNI:       0000 0004 8499 8292
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis is a theoretical and an empirical examination into women's embodied experience of imprisonment in England. It investigates the body-punishment relation and adopts theoretical perspectives from the sociology of embodiment and emotions and feminist theory. It suggests that existing research has articulated the harmful effects of the prison from a Cartesian perspective, distinguishing between mind and body; in doing this, prisons research has neglected women's embodied reactions to imprisonment and partly overlooked technologies of discipline and punishment focused on prisoners' bodies. The thesis argues that the 'pains of imprisonment' are embodied, and that attention to their embodied dimension can unveil relevant nuances in understanding what imprisonment feels like. To do this, it undertakes a phenomenological-feminist approach to prisons research and illustrates that the 'lived body', as a theoretical category, can offer a more situationally-specific and experientially-grounded understanding of subjectivity and identity in the prison context. In so doing, this study responds to an invitation made in the field of prisons research calling for more affective sociologies of imprisonment. In its empirical component, which comprised mainly of interviews with female ex prisoners, the thesis demonstrates that key coping strategies as well as various social performances in prison rely on the body as a medium of self-representation and as the source of emotional expression. Findings focus on themes such as health and rehabilitation routines, eating practices, the presentation of self, appearance and clothing in prison, drug-use and self-injury practices. This qualitative case study highlights that prisoner bodies change as a result of imprisonment, and argues that bodily transformations both reflect and transcend the prison, depicting women's experiences as instances of double oppression. These emotionally ambivalent experiences underline the permeability of prison space and the interaction between penal power and the socio-political landscape that endorses it, so that the experience of imprisonment is not merely constituted by the time spent in prison.
Supervisor: Player, Elaine Beryl ; Malik, Maleiha Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available