Prison Cultures (Book)
Performance, Resistance, Desire
Prison Cultures offers the first systematic examination of women in prison and performances in and of the institution. Using a feminist approach to reach beyond tropes of “bad girls” and simplistic inside vs. outside dynamics, it examines how cultural products can perpetuate or disrupt hegemonic understandings of the world of prisons.
Prison Cultures offers the first systematic examination of women in prison and performances in and of the institution. Using a feminist approach to reach beyond tropes of “bad girls” and simplistic inside vs. outside dynamics, it examines how cultural products can perpetuate or disrupt hegemonic understandings of the world of prisons. The book identifies how and why prison functions as a fixed field and postulates new ways of viewing performances in and of prison that trouble the institution, with a primary focus on the UK and examples from popular culture. A new contribution to the fields of feminist cultural criticism and prison studies, Aylwyn Walsh explores how the development of a theory of resistance and desire is central to the understanding of women’s incarceration. It problematises the prevalence, of purely literary analysis or case studies that proffer particular models of arts practice as transformative of offending behaviour.
Aylwyn Walsh is a lecturer in applied theatre at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds.
Chapter One: Prison Cultures Habitus and ‘Tragic Containment’
Chapter Two: Genealogies of Prison as Performance: Towards a Theory of Simulating the Cage
Chapter Three: Trauma, Strategies and Tactics: Problems of Performance in Prison
Chapter Four: Race, Space and Violence
Chapter Five: Prison Lesbians: Screening Intimacy and Desire
Chapter Six: Performance through Prison: Institutional Ghosts and Traces of the Traumatic
Paradoxes of Prison Cultures
‘This book provides an incisive and innovative analysis of carceral environments that challenges the common sense of prison cultures. Walsh deploys a radical and feminist sensibility to uncover not only how various types of performance strategy perpetuate rigid typologies of women, but also how artistic interventions and theatre representations can fashion alternative and resistive subjectivities.’
- Prof Paul Routledge, Leadership Chair in Contentious Politics and Social Change, University of Leeds
'Prison Cultures offers a multilayered and complex account of how justice is staged and experienced by women in prison and how such experiences are subsequently mediated in contemporary culture. Drawing on a range of examples and disciplines and committed to a feminist perspective, Aylwyn Walsh makes a compelling case for performance's function as a tool of resistance to carceral and patriarchal logics, imaginaries and practices against women in and out of prisons. This is an important source for anyone with an interest in performance and the criminal justice system specifically, but also, more broadly for anyone with a concern about the role of performance against regimes of power that perpetuate marginalization, racism and gender-violence. A timely intervention.’
- Dr Marilena Zaroulia, University of Winchester
'It is a novel and original contribution to the field, with insightful performance analyses that illuminate the complex ways performance practices function in wider culture, as well as within the context of prisons themselves.'
- Katie Beswick, University of Exeter
'An impressive command of a range of scholarship and a detailed knowledge of relevant discourses to the analysis. The layering and intersection of the fields develops a rich contribution to scholarship, offering a range of new possibilities and potentials for the fields with which Prison Cultures engages. The wide reaching analysis offers a number of intersecting and innovative insights into an exciting range of work of particular interest to the disciplines of performance and criminology.'
- Sarah Elizabeth Bartley, Queen Mary University London