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Spaces of enclosure

Espaces d'enfermement

Espaces et sociétés journal

Revue Espaces et Sociétés

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Published on Tuesday, June 18, 2013


En France ou à l'étranger, l’appel à articles souhaite cerner les logiques et les conséquences socio-spatiales de l'inflation carcérale et de la multiplication des espaces d'enfermement contraint et prolongé (centres éducatifs fermés, centres de rétention administrative, etc.). Quelles sont les spécificités des territoires qui accueillent ces espaces d'enfermement et quelles sont celles des territoires d'où viennent les détenus ? Quels sont les liens entre l'intérieur et l'extérieur, entre le lieu d'enfermement et son environnement ? Quels sont les rapports à l'espace à l'intérieur de ces lieux dont beaucoup sont aujourd’hui surpeuplés ? Espace d’ennui, de danger, de contrôle, de tri, de trafic, d'addiction, de maladie, de persécution, d'intégrisme et de folie, de suicide mais aussi de professionnalisation, d'amitié, d'amour, d'instruction scolaire, de sevrage, de remise en forme, de politisation, l'espace carcéral concentre les contrastes. Comment est-il affecté par le surpeuplement ? Quelles sont les résistances, adaptations, révoltes des salariés, des bénévoles, des détenus et de leurs familles ?



France was again condemned for inhuman treatment of prisoners on 20th January 2011. For many years, the European Court for Human Rights has complained of French overcrowded and derelict jails. The current record incarceration rate, the highest since the end of World War 2, doesn’t prevent numbers of poor male youngsters particularly, from “disadvantaged” areas, showing with bravado and sometimes with songs, that they have no fear of imprisonment.

In France (as elsewhere) increasing imprisonment goes along with the multiplication of other places of confinement which are both constricted and intended for populations serving extended periods of time: closed educational centres (for young people), administrative retention centres (for undocumented foreigners), etc. Powerful leading nations, most of them pretending to be “democratic”, as well as poor nations, are implicated. This confinement is located either in derelict or in “high tech” places. The management is either public or private (or in partnership). The status is either civilian or military (Guantanamo for example). Some alternatives emerge, such as the electronic bracelet or different sentencing arrangements. These places may also be either open or closed to families and NGOs, internally managed either by administrative staff or certain prisoners (in most cases by a combination of both) and located either in cities or in rural areas. What are the specific characteristics of the places where these confinementc institutions are placed and of those from which their prisoners have come?

This call for papers seeks to understand the logics and the spatial effects of both inflationary imprisonment and proliferation of confinement spaces, in France and elsewhere, both inside and outside of  prisons. What is the relationship between the inside and the outside, between the place of confinement and the local political and associational society? What is the impact of the jail on the real estate market and on local firms, lobbies and/or trade-unions? If jail remains the best crime and rebellion school, what are the economic and cultural exchanges with local radical groups, as well as with delinquent and criminal organisations?

In relation to the specific context of each place, what are the arguments, traditional and/or innovative, which can explain the overcrowding and the proliferation of such places: economic crises and/or economic injustice, consequences of war and/or Apartheid, demographic and urban evolutions, migrants belonging to mafias, war refugees, etc.? Is such a situation perceived as a regional, national or international problem? How do the local and the global interpenetrate?

The relationship to space inside confinement places is another relevant issue.

Jail first evokes boredom but also danger and control. Spatial control increasingly is more sophisticated with new technologies and devices: cameras, alarms, drugs, “situational” prevention in urban planning, etc. It is also an extremely hierarchical space, grouping prisoners into cells, floors, blocks, according to many criteria: their presumed danger to others, the length of their sentence, their origin and/or their religion, also their social class. Jail also is a place for trafficking with its drug addicts as well as its seriously ill prisoners, its religious fundamentalists, its persecuting and its persecuted prisoners, and/or prisoners with psychiatric disturbances, aggravated by punishments such as solitary confinement, strait jacket, etc.

Jail has become the “poor man’s psychiatric hospital”. It is full of forbidden spaces and of authorized places in which prisoners are at risk of “gang killing”, racket and rape, etc. Unsurprisingly the suicide rate also is high. Notwithstanding such violence, some long-termed containment confinement places may also become spaces for professional training, friendship and even love, formal education, severance and health recovery, conceptualisation and artistic sublimation of living experience, political awareness, religious conversion and even mystical “rebuilding”. It may even become a place of relative freedom, for prisoners employed as “auxiliaries” or for those allowed to use internet, phone, mobile, etc.

Prison space is a high concentration of sharp contrasts. What is the impact of overcrowding? Who is resisting and/or entering into a rebellion and who is looking for adaptations: prisoners, their families, prison officers, voluntary prison visitors?

Co-ordination of this issue

  • Thomas Sauvadet
  • Benjamin Moignard

Submission guidelines


  • 31.05.2014: reception of full papers

  • 30.06.2014: feedback to the authors

Correspondence address

E-mail (most convenient):

Per post (4 copies):

Thomas Sauvadet
9 rue du 2 décembre 1870 94360 Bry-sur-Marne

Potential authors with doubts on the relevance of their proposal may contact the co-ordinators

Only full papers are assessed.

Paper maximum length is 42 000 signs, including text, spaces, footnotes, references and appendices (abstracts are not taken into account in the paper length).

Advice to authors and manuscript presentation norms are on the website:


  • Paris, France (75)


  • Saturday, May 31, 2014


  • prison, enfermement, surpeuplement, territoire, espace


  • Joëlle Jacquin
    courriel : Espacesetsocietes [at] msh-paris [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Joëlle Jacquin
    courriel : Espacesetsocietes [at] msh-paris [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Spaces of enclosure », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, June 18, 2013,

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