Asian prisons

Colonial pasts, neo-liberal futures and subversive sites

Authored by: Mahuya Bandyopadhyay

Handbook on Prisons

Print publication date:  February  2016
Online publication date:  February  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415745659
eBook ISBN: 9781315797779
Adobe ISBN:


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If there is anything that may be marked as a common theme in writing about the nature of Asian prisons, it is, paradoxically, the variance in their character, spirit and practices of incarceration. Yet, in thinking and writing about Asian prisons, one is undoubtedly captivated by the transformations, potential, implicit or real, that most of these prisons are on the verge of witnessing. These transformations, I will argue, lie most often in a curious interface with their colonial pasts and contemporary neo-liberal contexts. The other significant commonality is located in the very sparse literature and information on the subject of prisons in Asia. A final theme of commonality is the nature of concealments about the prison as an institution, and about the practices and impending policies around incarceration, that most Asian contexts represent in varying degrees. One can infer, speculate and attempt to articulate the horrors of these prisons through the nature of their conspiracies of silence, neglect and censorship. The legitimation of this deadly triumvirate is often drawn from the dominant political cultures of these Asian countries.

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