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Title: The Carceral Outside: How Privatized Land Produces Racialized Labor in an American Prison Town
Authors: Pearson, Heath
Advisors: Biehl, João
Perry, Imani
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: Labor
Land History
Race and Racism
Subjects: African American studies
American studies
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: “The Carceral Outside” explores the evolution of a rural town in New Jersey that, over the course of two hundred years of capital accumulation, has transformed from an agricultural hub into a town with four prisons, a regional jail, and three police departments. It examines how the transformation of land over time was related to the search for and exploitation of laborers, and how that relationship between land and labor became racialized, paving the way for a rural “prison town.” The study is anchored by a detailed land history of each prison site, beginning in the late-eighteenth century and continuing to the present, and is bolstered by a chronicle of family and life histories based on more than two hundred ethnographic interviews. Additional data were supplied by newspaper archives in the library, local government archives, and published state and federal reports. U.S. “mass incarceration” and the “war on drugs” have been framed primarily as federal responses to deindustrialization driven by a racist backlash to expanded civil rights in the mid-twentieth century. This dissertation challenges that story, arguing instead that the long durée of carceral control and forced labor manifests as a core technique of market democracy. When land changes from “unused,” to agriculturally productive, to industrial, to punitive, the laborers change with it: from Indigenous genocide and African (American) slavery, to Japanese-American “internees” in labor camps during WWII, to prison labor and devalued laborers with felonies, to undocumented agricultural laborers from Central and South America. Laborers during these changing eras, in turn, signify and at times foment social divisions especially along lines of race/ethnicity. Historicizing this relationship between privatized land and racialized labor locates “mass incarceration” as only a current manifestation of market democracy’s continual re/production of a racialized division of laborers.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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