The history of prisons, and in general of buildings that had the purpose of separating certain people from the rest of society, has met with renewed historiographic interest in recent years, which has proposed new paradigms and new keys to interpretation. Investigations into the organizational, institutional, and economic aspects of prisons and similar structures, into daily life and the relations of powers within them, as well as into contacts with the outside world, have highlighted the role of space (physical, social, imagined, imposed, created) as an interpretative category to approach the subject.
Starting from these suggestions, the international workshop will act as a platform for connecting and comparing new research or research in progress on case studies that question various dimensions and uses of space as a means of punishment, control, and discipline.
We want to consider not only material spaces of separation – prisons, jails, forced labor houses, reformatories... – but also, other legal institutions, police practices, administrative sanctions and measures based on the limitation/imposition/denial of space. This category includes, for example, extradition, forced domicile, forced transport, and in general all those measures that limited the movement and the range of action (spatial but also social and relational) of those affected.
The chronological frame of the workshop ranges from the second half of the 19th century to the outbreak of the First World War. This was a period in which – at least in many parts of Europe – on the one hand, new prison structures and workhouses were conceived, at least in theory, as more modern and rational structures, also considering the organization of space. On the other hand, there was an increasingly systematic use of administrative and police instruments aimed at maintaining public order by removing people considered socially dangerous and ‘deviant’ or, on the contrary, by inhibiting their movement.
From a geographical point of view, the workshop is open to all proposals. However, to allow for a fruitful exchange among participants, proposals are particularly welcome that consider the relationship and mutual connections between punishment/control spaces– be they buildings or other forms of ‘imposed spaces’ or ‘denied spaces’ – and the urban/regional/sub-regional context in which these spaces are located.
The workshop will be divided into two panels.
I. Locking up
The first panel will deal with prison buildings, of which the following aspects can be highlighted:
- Architectural and organizational aspects: how were space and time organized – and what was the relationship between these two dimensions of daily life? What was the relationship between inside and outside space? What were the prevailing architectural models and what were the local/regional peculiarities?
- Urban and geographical aspects: where were these buildings located in the urban or regional context, how did they change over time and what were their aims (e.g. rationalization and modernization of urban spaces, moving prison buildings away from more densely populated areas, the need for agricultural space, the proximity to mining facilities, etc.)?
- Economic and material aspects: how did these structures fit into the regional/state economy and production system? How did they sustain themselves; how much did they burden the finances of the state/region?
II. Forcing, removing
The second panel will discuss and compare case studies on other spatial forms of punishment and social control, with particular regard to the following aspects:
- Legal and regulatory aspects: how do certain forms of social control related to the removal of people or the imposition of not leaving a certain place – which are in turn closely related to the complex concepts of “citizenship”, “residence” and “domicile” – change and refine, since the second half of the 19th century? How are these measures discussed from a legal point of view, how are they applied in practice? Are there discrepancies between norm and practice, between law and application? Are there particularities, specific regional needs or areas of autonomy (e.g. with regard to border regions) in the application or development of such measures?
- Institutional and diplomatic aspects: are there any conflicts between the various levels of government and administration (local, regional, state) in the application of these measures? How are measures such as exile and extradition handled diplomatically? What role do the administrations of the border areas play in this context?
- Social and micro-historical aspects: What did the removal or spatial constraint measures mean for those particularly affected – vagrants, beggars, homeless people –whose perceived danger stemmed from their “undisciplined” mobility? What were their strategies and margins of evasion of such measures?
The workshop will be held on 15 October 2021 at the Faculty of Education of the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano, Brixen/Bressanone campus, and will be organized by the Competence Centre for Regional History of the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano with the cooperation of the University of Lucerne, Institut für Juristische Grundlagen - lucernaiuris, and the Università della Svizzera Italiana, Archivio del Moderno.
The organizers will cover the costs of accommodation (2 nights) as well as travel expenses (up to a maximum of €250). Publication of the workshop contributions is planned.
Please send your proposals (an abstract of about 500 words, indicating the sources used, as well as, in the same file, a short bio-bibliographical note) by 30 April 2021 to Francesca Brunet: email@example.com. Requests for clarification or questions of an organizational nature can be addressed to the same address. Abstracts may be written in Italian, German or English. The conference languages will be Italian, German, and English, with simultaneous translation into English.
The results of the selection process and the final workshop program will be announced by the end of May 2021.