“Here I Sit in this Dismal Crypt”: Insider Interpretations of the Canadian Carceral Necropolis
This paper draws from the art produced in the Cell Count archive, a quarterly bulletin that the Prisoners’ Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Support Action Network distributes to persons incarcerated in Canadian prisons. The authors use necropolitical theory to undertake a content analysis of prisoner art to gain insights into how carceral life affects the incarcerated. Specifically, prisoners convey prisons as death-worlds. The mass incarceration practices, which are a mechanism of settler colonialism and white supremacy, strip populations down to bare life. First, prisoners depict their carceral experience as a kind of slow, protracted process of dying. Second, they describe themselves using imagery of the dead. Third, they explore notions of escape or release through an angelic or spiritual afterlife.
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